After 38 years in management, a top Boeing manager has learned a few things about how to be a good boss -- and a good citizen.
And keynote speaker Scott E. Carson, former president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, shared those Thursday with about 60 people attending Washington State University Tri-Cities' Strategic Business Forum.
The group of Tri-City business professionals heard from Carson, who also is a WSU graduate, as part of a session designed to talk about how issues such as health care reform and tax law changes will affect their businesses.
Carson said he developed what he calls leadership lessons about five years ago after a Boeing intern asked him, "Looking back on your career, with your experience in management, what advice can you give us?"
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"It was like being asked, 'What should we put on your epitaph?' " he said.
The first, and the most important lesson, Carson said, is "Throughout your life, seek opportunities to improve yourself."
Thursday's forum, he said, was a prime example. It drew people from all walks of life, brought them together with one purpose and allowed them to share their views.
Another important lesson Carson said he learned is to strike a balance between work and private life.
"Set priorities with your family. They're your partners in life and you need to have an agreement with them on what works and what doesn't when it comes to balancing your work life and your personal life," he said.
Other points he made include:
-- Be competent, that's the minimum. Incompetence is not acceptable.
-- Be adaptable. Somewhere opportunities wait to be found, even when things seem to be a disaster.
-- Be a positive influence in both your verbal and body language. Don't beat people down, instead leave them energized.
-- Stand for something. It's important to commit yourself and to be accountable for that commitment.
"Let it be something that will be on your tombstone when you're gone. Something that people will remember about you," he said.
-- Having a willingness to take risks, to make a mistake and learn from it is imperative.
"If you simply perform (your job) by rote, you sap the energy from the young people coming in," Carson said.
-- Build relationships that are outward looking instead of focusing on yourself.
"You need to be the receptor, not the transmitter. The most important person is the one you're facing," he said.
-- "And finally, give back to your company," he said.
"When you reach your 40s in a big corporation, it's not about you anymore, it's about the young people coming up," Carson said.
"Give back to your families too. They support you in your pursuits in ways you never see."
Reward yourself too. Indulge in a hobby, join an organization that you enjoy.
And give back to the community.
"You can choose to live in a community or to be a part of it. It's your decision," he said.