Ronan Dunne readily admits that the path to success is paved with mistakes.
The executive vice president and CEO of Verizon Consumer Group and counselor for the One Young World, a U.K.-based youth leadership non-profit, joined Resilience 2020, a collaboration of Verizon Media brands Cashay, HuffPost, MAKERS, BUILT BY GIRLS, and Yahoo, to share the wisdom and knowledge he’s gained as a leader.
“You can tell by my gray hair that I've learned a few things over the years,” Dunne said.
Firm in his belief that “the power of we is always greater than the power of me,” Dunne distilled his musings and lessons on leadership and teamwork, noting there’s something to be learned for leaders in every phase of their lives.
[Author’s note: Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.]
Lesson 1: It is not what you do, it is what you make happen
“Sometimes we think when we start our careers, or our activism, or our activities, that the more I do, the more difference it will make. But your output is finite, but your impact and influence can be infinite.
So how do you influence the agenda, so that the work you do is amplified in the changes in behaviors and attitudes of the people around you? It’s not something that you have to wait until you’re the boss, that can start on the day you start, whatever that activity, whether it's work or activism.”
Lesson 2: An effective team is better at what they do than the leader who assembled them
“While that may sound obvious, sometimes we're very focused on what is it that I can do. But the thing I've learned — and I learned the hard way was — I used to work harder and harder. I used to take work off of my teammate’s desks so it looked like we were ahead of things in the morning. Then I realized it wasn't working.
What I needed to do was invest in developing the people around me. The beauty of teams is that people come in every shape and size, color, and creed. It's the diversity of who you have in your team that creates richer better outcomes.
To build a great team is inherently inclusive anyway, but it also means that you will make a bigger difference.”
Lesson 3: Exercise judgment as to when to exercise judgment
“When you are starting your career, you always want to make an impact. And so you want to jump in, you want to show you can make decisions, you can be decisive. But sometimes it’s the more hurry, the less speed. So this idea of being ready to think before you act is really important.
Sometimes saying no or I can’t decide is the most powerful decision you can make. Always remember: No is as good an answer as yes.”
Lesson 4: Authenticity is key
“If you're genuinely authentic, you're also willing to be vulnerable.
You have to humanize the reality of work or leadership. If people don't feel comfortable or they don't believe that there's a safe space in the work environment, then they can never give their best.
If leadership can be authentic and vulnerable, it affords a space for all of us to be honest about the challenges we find, and then to contextualize those into the opportunities that there may be for personal growth and well being.
I don't believe someone should have a work persona or a home persona. If work isn't the place where you strive, then there's something wrong. It's up to leaders to create conditions where everybody can be the success they deserve to be.”
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