by Bob Klein
While leadership is a great interest of mine, there are real authorities who live and breathe the field day to day. However, while my observations are based on personal experiences that are from a galaxy of somewhat long ago and far away, they are supplemental in nature and, to borrow from a favorite movie, “The fundamental things apply as time goes by.”
What has impressed me most about the good leaders with whom I have been associated is:
- their knowledge of their business environments,
- their understanding of the people who populate them, and
- their ability and disposition to promote success and performance throughout the ranks via their skills as enablers.
In capsule form: These individuals have an enormous knowledge of their industries; their organizations’ past, present, and futures in these industries; and, more particularly, the dynamics shaping each incarnation. They know their own personnel, their competitors, their customers, and regulators, as well as the political and community types who impact them.
If not always technically proficient in each area of their business, from experience they know which button moves which lever. The net result has been to not only consistently surface, but also to create opportunities and to avoid pitfalls.
Extending the walk down memory lane reinforces the recollection of how many really “good players” were on their “teams.” Put another way, eagles soared because they were surrounded by eagles, not turkeys. For the most part, the rosters consisted of veteran cohorts – seasoned, enthusiastic, and reflecting an extraordinary esprit de corps. High motivation was further achieved by provision of sufficient resources and other support and incentivized by appropriate financial and psychic rewards. Gaps between vision and process were minimal, and gaps between process and execution even fewer.
In short, these leaders acted as enablers long before that term became a popular management euphemism.
Old school – maybe. Timely – I think so.
The fundamental things apply as time goes by!
Bob Klein is a retired anti-trust law partner in the firm of Butzel Long, where his clients included Uniroyal, Ford, and other major companies. He is a graduate of Williams College and University of Michigan Law School, and was active throughout his career with national legal associations as well as with community interests, especially involving education, health care, and scholarships.
I invited Bob to be a guest leader as I have enormous admiration for his expertise, tireless energy, and commitment to his community. We are both summer residents of Charlevoix, Michigan and I see first hand his dedication and behind the scenes work to help the Charlevoix area and our people, especially our young people.
While he would shy away from any recognition, Bob is definitely one of our most admired leaders.