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Marty Rodgers presenting at GPTW immersion event

Marty Rodgers speaks on equality in leadership at an event at Accenture’s San Francisco Innovation Hub during the Great Place to Work for All 2020 Immersion Event.

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Spending time with great leaders is always inspiring, and I have been blessed to work with many great clients, mentors, and bosses who have changed their enterprises, the country, and the world.  

This week, I was honored to attend the annual Great Place to Work For All Leadership Awards Gala, which assembled and celebrated a group of outstanding leaders from across a number of companies, industries and geographies. 

The various CEOs and leaders at all levels—from pastry chef to head of Human Resources— recognized at the event got me thinking about the qualities I believe make a great leader.

Five leadership tips I've learned:

1. Lead authentically and inclusively.
Accenture’s entire theory of leadership is predicated on authenticity and the teachings of Dr. Noel Tichy, that the best leaders are authentic leaders. Tichy suggests that in order to lead, we must know ourselves, our story and our teachable points of view, and have the courage to find our voices and share them. 

In order for employees to be authentic and bring their whole selves to the workplace, and to have the courage to use their unique voices and experiences, enterprises must focus on inclusion and equality, not just diversity.  They must also foster and reward those who are innovative and seek to improve big things and little things, internally and externally. 

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Empowered, equal teams can move mountains. 

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The key to innovation is inclusion. As market influences shift and competition increases, the key to a company’s resilience and innovative thinking can be found in a culture of equality, in which all people feel empowered and invested.

The more empowering the workplace environment, the more innovative and productive your team will be. As a leader, be sure you are opening up room at the table, both literally and figuratively, for everyone on your team and empowering them to speak up and lead themselves.

Empowered, equal teams can move mountains.

2. Lead with purpose.
Do not get me wrong: Companies are in business to make profits, but having purpose is equally important. We must be about success and significance, and increasingly, consumers are looking to do business with companies whose values align with their own.  The world’s leading enterprises are called to be responsible and be both value- and values-obsessed.

So, as you make business decisions in your career, have purpose and integrity. Understand your “why” as much as the “what,” and make decisions accordingly. Use purpose as the compass that keeps you on track.

 3. Lead with curiosity—and listen and learn from everyone.
Never stop learning, never stop looking for ways to do better and do not be afraid to try new things. “It’s the way we’ve always done it,” is never a good reason. 

I set aside time on Saturday mornings and Sundays after Mass for mentoring and coaching—everyone from new managing directors, to analysts and interns within Accenture, to community partners—and I probably learn from them more than they learn from me.

Seek and find; stay curious. Learn new skills and always continue to improve.

4. Lead with abundance.
A rising tide lifts all boats, and as a leader, the more you support your team, the more you encourage collaboration. The more you bring others along in your own success, the more successful you and your organization will be.

Put your people first; find ways to celebrate the success of those around you, and as you grow in your career, bring others along. Invest the time and energy to unlock the full potential of your people, and you will likely generate impressive results. As you have probably been blessed with mentors and sponsors—and heroes and she-roes—throughout your career, take the time to be a mentor or a sponsor yourself.

I have often found that the more you give, the more you get in return. A true leader doesn’t force others to follow; they inspire others to action.

5. Lead by serving.
Last, but certainly not least, some of the best career advice I have ever received comes from one of my old bosses, attorney Marian Wright Edelman, the first African-American woman admitted to the Bar in Mississippi. I currently serve on her board for the Children’s Defense Fund.

Marian said, “Service is the rent we pay for living,” and it is advice I aspire to live by each and every day.

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For me, leadership and service are indistinguishable. 

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Service is an opportunity to stretch yourself and try new things, to learn and build a sense of teamwork and a feeling of belonging. No matter where you are in your career, you should always be looking for ways to serve and give back.

For me, leadership and service are indistinguishable. And client service, community service and public service are callings and all rooted in the same ethos.

When you help your community, you are also helping yourself in many, immeasurable ways. Doing well by doing good—what could be better than that?

I have learned much from leaders I admire, inside and outside of Accenture, on how to lead and how we all can continuously learn and improve, and these learnings top my list.

Build your career at a place where you can learn, grow and lead, every day. Find your fit with Accenture.


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Marty Rodgers

Senior Managing Director, Washington, DC

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