Building Leaders

A constant focus of our executive team is on building leaders. I would venture to say that we discuss this topic more frequently than any other and it’s something all of us embrace. For me, Ralph Nader said it best: “I start from the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders than followers.” This has been a frequent mental refrain for me since my Achilles tendon ruptured a few weeks ago. I’d like to have a more dramatic story about how it happened, but the true reason is a combination of genetics and a life-long aversion to any form of stretching. These things always happen at the most inopportune times and this was no different. In the week ahead, we had our Annual Stockholder meeting, a full day executive planning session and I was to host a multi-day department “All Hands” training meeting.

I should have been incredibly stressed as I limped over to my administrator’s office to reschedule meetings before departing to the hospital. Instead, I was fairly relaxed. I knew that we have built a solid team of leaders who would very ably handle things in my absence. And, that’s what happened. One of our corporate attorneys quickly made the changes necessary so that our CFO could run the stockholder meeting (thanks again, Mike). And others prepared for the department meeting and made decisions on other items on which I was focused at the time.

A few days after surgery, I was able to get back into the office on crutches and attend part of our department meeting. I hobbled (I would kill for a Segway right now) between buildings and attended many of the training sessions held by each legal team. (As an aside, I realized that we packed a bit too much into the schedule when I noticed that one of the groups had replaced water and soft drinks with Red Bull in its session.)

In one of the meetings, the members of our Employment Law group shared fascinating insights on a recent litigation; in another, I watched lawyers from our patent team as they engaged with outside counsel about ways in which to increase the quality (already high) of our patent filings. I also attended trainings on antitrust law and open source licensing and met with many people in the department from around the world. I was in constant awe of the level of talent surrounding me in every room. To be candid, at times I was intimidated by the passion, creativity and technical knowledge of our legal team. I just had to keep reminding myself that as Mr. Nader said – my job is to build leaders.

5 Comments

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5 responses to “Building Leaders

  1. So sorry to hear about your ruptured Achilles tendon. It sucks. (I felt the same when a friend ruptured his playing badminton.) I hope you are well on your way to full recovery.
    I think a true leader is one that has the confidence to surround himself/herself with people much more capable and technically competent in various specialized area than him/her and the ability to find those good people in the first place. By that benchmark, the leaders you have surrounding you is a pretty good indicator of your achievement.
    I like to say I aspire to be the dumbest guy in a room full of smart friends. This way, I can learn something from everyone and, if the blue moon happens to be shining, may be they can learn from me as well. (smile)
    Get well soon Mike, crutches are not fun to be around with. We are biped and crutches just sucks. (smile)
    Have a nice weekend.
    Best Regards,
    Kempton

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