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Adriana Lopez Graham’s
Leadership Reflections

I met Adriana Lopez Graham when she was on the University of Arkansas women’s tennis team. Now an Information Technology Sr. Director at Tyson Foods, she was a fierce competitor on the court and an exemplary student in the classroom, earning her bachelor’s degree in international relations and her master’s degree in information systems.

In addition to her reflections on leadership found in Why It Matters, Adriana shared the following with my students.

  • “Treat failure as a learning opportunity.”
  • “Time is the most important resource we have.”
  • “It’s important for a leader to be able to drive progress when the leader is no longer present.”
  • “Positive intent must be assumed when dealing with people.”
  • “Attention to detail is important.”
  • “Consistent performance will be rewarded. Ask others to check your work.”
  • “My ultimate goal is to add value in whatever role I have.”
  • “Be willing to raise your hand if you believe you are the right person for the job.”
  • “Collaboration and teamwork will create the trampoline for you to jump even higher.”
  • “Be curious, drive progress, motivate the team, build relationships.”
  • “Whatever business you are in, it is all about people.”

Preferring to lead with motivation, not compliance, Adriana shared with the students what she calls her Bowl of Ps. She said everything begins with people. Focus on them. Get to know them. Let them know you care.

Next, establish purpose. Don’t be shy. Align the team’s purpose with the organization’s purpose. Don’t settle for simply being profitable. Be bold. Let your team know why it is doing what it’s doing. Work with purpose front-of-mind.

Adriana’s third P, priority, emphasizes the need to prioritize. She reminded the students, “If everything is important, then nothing is important.” She said they must distinguish important things from unimportant things. She advised them to focus on the things that will have the greatest impact.

Adriana’s fourth P is preparation. She said when preparation meets opportunity, success is just around the corner. Drawing on her tennis background, she said that preparation separates winners from losers. How well has your team prepared?

If you focus on people, if the team knows its purpose, if you’ve established priorities, and if the team has prepared to compete, then Adriana said it’s time for the fifth P—perform. As Chris Lofgren told the students, effort is appreciated but results are required. To excel, you must perform.

Exceptional performance requires the sixth P—passion! Half-hearted performance won’t cut it. Don’t just bring your mind. Also bring your heart.

Adriana’s final P is persistence. Never give in, stay the course! Steady wins the race!

Throughout her career, Adriana emphasized people, purpose, priority, preparation, performance, passion, and persistence with every team she led and it produced phenomenal profits—three more P-words.


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