August 12, 2009

This year marks my 10th anniversary as Chair of the Much Shelist Management Committee. Looking back at the past decade, I can truly appreciate the confidence and trust that my colleagues placed in me. Despite having a certain level of experience, skill and knowledge, I had a great deal to learn about leading an organization.

Some of those lessons reinforced the leadership principles I already understood. Others I learned through trial and error. Many were driven home as I studied the actions of other successful leaders and executives. My hope is that some of these observations will help you to reflect upon your leadership in ways that may prove useful in your organization.

Find the highest and best use of your time. Just like a new U.S. president who aspires to tackle major issues that demand immediate attention, I tried to undertake too much, too soon when I became Chair of the Management Committee. I quickly learned that pacing, prioritization and delegation were the real keys to getting things done.

Find your balance of control. Most of what you will face as leaders is out of your hands. Learn the difference between the things that only you can control and those that can be left to others.

Transparency is your friend. In order for your organization to succeed, you must achieve buy-in from every member of the team. This includes your customers and clients, as well as your senior leadership team and frontline staff. The fastest way to gain trust and support from all parties is to communicate openly, honestly and frequently.

Know thyself. Two of the best questions you can ask about your company are "What are we trying to be?" and "How do we become what we want to be?" Self-awareness will be one of your greatest strengths.

Groom the next generation. Even for a successful enterprise, a lack of succession planning can pose one of your greatest threats. Identify your best and brightest, or possible successors, and make sure they have the tools and opportunities they need to grow.

These are just a few thoughts that I hope will be of value. Of course, the greatest highlights of the past 10 years have been the support of my Much Shelist colleagues and the incredible relationships I've developed with the firm's clients. For both, I am extremely grateful and proud.

This article contains material of general interest and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. Under applicable rules of professional conduct, this content may be regarded as attorney advertising.