Lawyers and Leadership - Trust is more important now than ever.
In November 2003, I (along with a few thousand of my closest colleagues) was sworn in as a lawyer licensed by the State of Texas. The swearing-in required that I recite the following:
I do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitutions of the United States, and of this state; that I will honestly demean myself in the practice of law; that I will discharge my duties to my clients to the best of my ability; and that I will conduct myself with integrity and civility in dealing and communicating with the court and all parties. So help me God.
Since that ceremonious event, I have pulled many a client's wagon out of the legal ditch in an effort to honor that solemn vow. I have been relied upon for guidance, counsel, and get-it-right legal in some extremely challenging situations. With a general counsel practice focus, the range of challenges that come across my desk is a mile wide and, after nearly 15 years in this effort, a mile or more deep. It has never been "easy," and if it were, I suppose no one would have a need to engage my services.
According to the Texas Lawyer's Creed-which is designed to be read in the first person-". . . I know that professionalism requires more than merely avoiding the violation of laws and rules."
While the vow I took nearly 20 years ago specifically mentions core qualities of Honesty, Integrity, Civility, and Best of Ability, I attribute much of my success to essentially a word: Leadership.
Depending on the point of view, the quality of Leadership encompasses all other characteristics of professionalism and is a quality that must be continually honed and re-evaluated. There is no end to its development, and perfection is unattainable.
For the last 3,012 days (but, who's counting.), I have served as outside General Counsel to the Promotional Products Association International (a publicly available fact). PPAI is a trade association with a board of leaders from across the U.S. and Canada and a membership base of near 15,000 that is innovative, creative, and entrepreneurial. On August 15-17, 2022, PPAI hosted its North American Leadership Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I was fortunate to attend the event, and from the event, I took note of the few "nuggets" below the topic of innovation and leadership:
- Innovation-Think differently about what's right in front of you to create an advantage.
- Stability breeds efficiency and complacency. Instability breeds resilience and innovation.
- Sometimes we get so far in the weeds we miss opportunities. Step back and evaluate the forest.
- Tune in to challenges that are heard over and over, and then thoughtfully dive into or approach them.
- Look for immediate wins and long-term opportunities.
- Reward behaviors, not outcomes.
- Creating value at the speed-of-need is how you compete and win.
- Nothing happens until something moves.
- Lost money can be later found. Lost time is lost forever.
- Your digital footprint could be your digital exhaust, choking others in the wake.
- Experience that you provide is more important than the product itself.
- Anticipate stakeholder needs.
- Be holistic: we, not me, when building successful systems, business.
- Trust more important now than ever.
- Competence - reliable and capable, plus Character-integrity and benevolence.
- Remain Nimble; Mobile - Understand rigid aspects of business and innovate for mobility.
- Excellence is about the next 5 minutes. Demonstrate excellence with everything you do.
- Control- or silo-mentality is for amateurs.
- Personalization is an important currency.
Insights: Leadership is a journey. Through that journey, I have at times stood with arms raised in the shape of a V for victory, and I have fallen. But, I remain humble in successes, and I always get up in my failures. As a lawyer poised and seasoned to address a wide range of legal issues, trusted leadership is a key quality for discharging legal duties to the best of my ability. If I incorporate my personalization, experience, Honesty, Integrity, and Civility into every matter, no other attorney on the planet can duplicate that-those traits are mine, developed by me over nearly 20 years. That approach can and should be applied by every attorney, for themselves, and so that, as a profession, the common vow and Creed are continually fortified. The path of the bold leader-especially one who sits in the role of trusted consigliere-is usually riddled with tremendous hurdles and challenges. With continual honing of Leadership, Honesty, Integrity, and Civility, those professional hurdles can be cleared and the challenges overcome. So help me God.
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