We believe that managers must also be leaders (and vice-versa). They must focus upon the details and ensure that the trains run on time while also keeping an eye on the bigger picture. Part of that bigger picture is growing their team and setting everyone up for future success. From the article, “as Sir John Whitmore, a leading figure in the field, defined it, skilled coaching involves ‘unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance.’” This article in the Harvard Business Review is a great discussion of the acknowledgement of that shifting role of managers in the field. In our modern world, managers must become better coaches to help their teams grow – they must exercise leadership skills as well as managerial ones. The article discusses the barriers to doing this well, a couple of models to consider, and some tips to improve. It also provides some basic steps and further reading about coaching.
Here’s my favorite paragraph: “We live in a world of flux. Successful executives must increasingly supplement their industry and functional expertise with a general capacity for learning—and they must develop that capacity in the people they supervise. No longer can managers simply command and control. Nor will they succeed by rewarding team members mainly for executing flawlessly on things they already know how to do. Instead, with full institutional support, they need to reinvent themselves as coaches whose job it is to draw energy, creativity, and learning out of the people with whom they work.” Overall, excellent discussion of what managers and leaders should be and I highly recommend it. Kudos to Victor Flores for recently posting about this article. Although it’s not a recent article (originally published in late 2019), it is a great refresher about the importance of good managers.
Few leaders have made decisions as momentous or widely varied as Dwight D. Eisenhower. Through his decades of service to America—first, as an accomplished general who led the Allied army to victory during World War II and later, as the 34th President of the United States during the Cold War—Dwight D. Eisenhower personified the qualities of successful leadership.
Baylor Law recently hosted an interview with President Eisenhower’s granddaughter, Susan Eisenhower, a distinguished Washington D.C. policy strategist, security expert, and author. In her book, How Ike Led, Susan Eisenhower details the qualities that made her grandfather the great leader he is remembered for being today. Author and attorney Talmage Boston, who interviewed Susan Eisenhower for the online event, described How Ike Led as a “textbook on leadership.”
How Ike Led may not be the only leadership “textbook” authored by an Eisenhower, however. In 1965, President Eisenhower authored an essay on leadership that was published in the Reader’s Digest. In that essay, President Eisenhower described the “handful of known qualities which I am convinced are the essence of leadership[,]” based on his observations of other renowned leaders, such as Sir Winston Churchill and Gen. George C. Marshall. According to Eisenhower, the essential leadership qualities include: Selfless Dedication, Courage and Conviction, Fortitude, Humility, Thorough Homework, and the Power of Persuasion.
Based on Susan Eisenhower’s discussion of her grandfather, it is clear President Eisenhower possessed many of these key traits. More than fifty years after President Eisenhower’s death, these qualities continue to remain relevant in today’s societal and political climate.
The first—and “perhaps the greatest”—quality Eisenhower described was selfless dedication. In his essay, Eisenhower wrote: “Any leader worth his salt must of course possess a certain amount of ego, a justifiable pride in his own accomplishments. But if he is a truly great leader, the cause must predominate over self.” In How Ike Led, Susan Eisenhower addresses this concept, writing that President Eisenhower knew when to suppress and when to deploy his ego. By this, she means that Eisenhower possessed a talent for knowing which fights to pursue and which fights to let go. Eisenhower innately recognized that insisting on winning every fight, no matter how large or small, alienated people. Instead, Eisenhower’s primary goal in both war and peace was to “foster unity” and “find a middle way.” In Susan Eisenhower’s words, it matters less “who does the right thing” and matters more that “the right thing gets done.” Eisenhower exemplified this belief by shirking partisanship and remaining open to working with both members of his party and those across the political aisle.
Eisenhower also described the importance of humility in a leader. In his essay on leadership, Eisenhower wrote: “My own conviction is that every leader should have enough humility to accept, publicly, the responsibility for the mistakes of the subordinates he has himself selected and, likewise, to give them credit, publicly, for their triumphs.” Eisenhower, again, serves as an exemplar of this quality. For any failure, Eisenhower claimed the responsibility rather than casting blame on his subordinates. Moreover, he instilled this value on his family as well. Susan Eisenhower recalled that the correct response to any failure or shortcoming was to accept responsibility and say: “No excuses, sir.”
A third quality of leadership described and exemplified by Eisenhower is fortitude. Eisenhower described this “vital ingredient of leadership” as “fortitude of spirit – the capacity to stand strong under reverses, to rise from defeat and do battle again, to learn from one’s mistakes and push on to the ultimate goal.” In line with this concept, Susan Eisenhower evoked one of her grandfather’s favorite expressions: “Don’t rewind the tape.” By this expression, Eisenhower meant that a leader should avoid replaying and second-guessing their past decisions. Rather, a leader should remain forward-facing and focused on the future.
Throughout the interview, the picture of President Eisenhower that emerged was one of nuance and complexity, highlighted by juxtaposed qualities and anecdotes. Despite being known for his considerable military accomplishments, President Eisenhower strove for peace rather than war during his two presidential terms. Relatedly, President Eisenhower used the United States’ military strength to negotiate a truce to end the Korean War and reduce tensions during the Cold War.
At the beginning of the interview, Talmage Boston noted how Susan Eisenhower’s brother, David, described President Eisenhower as both “beloved and forbidding.” Susan Eisenhower’s answers to interview questions, including her personal stories and anecdotes of President Eisenhower, revealed the truth of that duality.
Most historians are familiar with “the formidable Ike.” According to Susan Eisenhower, President Eisenhower possessed an “enormous physical presence” and a notorious temper, though he exercised great discipline in controlling it. After witnessing firsthand the liberation of a concentration camp during World War II, Eisenhower insisted that Germans from a nearby town visited the camp to see what had been done in their name, and he later required that villagers give the Holocaust victims proper burials. Eisenhower believed in accountability, but he also recognized that accountability must be followed by the opportunity for redemption. With President Eisenhower’s support, West Germany became a member of NATO in 1955, ten years after the end of World War II.
As this anecdote illustrates, President Eisenhower possessed an equally-important sensitive side in addition to his “forbidding” presence and reputation. Susan Eisenhower described her grandfather as a person with “extraordinary sensitivity” and a “big heart and tough head.” He was a “very passionate, emotional person” who was tasked with making difficult decisions in the absence of emotion.
As Eisenhower himself once wrote, “we don’t know all there is to know about leadership.” That said, Eisenhower’s legacy and nuanced approach to leadership serve as an enduring example of the marks of a true leader. As succinctly stated in the book’s description, “Susan Eisenhower’s How Ike Led shows us not just what a great American did, but why―and what we can learn from him today.”
Two hunters were out in the woods when one suddenly fell to the ground. His eyes rolled back in his head, and he seemed to stop breathing. The other hunter frantically took out his cellphone and called 9-1-1. As soon as the call connected, he yelled out, “My friend Bubba is dead! What can I do?” The operator calmly replied, “Take it easy. I can help. Just listen to me and follow my instructions. First, let’s make sure he’s really dead.” A short pause ensued, and the operator then heard a loud gunshot. The hunter came back on the line and said, “Okay… now what?” [i]
Our modern society provides constant noise. Everywhere we turn there is something to listen to – 24/7 news, social media videos, audiobooks, podcasts, satellite/internet radio . . . the list goes on and on. While noise is frequent, we rarely see anyone simply being in the moment, truly engaged in observing and understanding the world. Instead, we pull out our phones during any down time to check email and social media. We are losing the art of doing nothing—of letting our brains have creative rest. We also are forgetting how to really listen.
For me personally, these constant distractions make it difficult to focus on one thing at a time. This is true not only during personal time; it happens at work as well. When I am on a business-focused Zoom call, even with just a few people, I constantly glance at my phone to read text messages or check that most recent email in case it demands my attention. In doing so, I may be hearing the conversation on the Zoom call, but am I really listening? A Russian proverb says, “If you chase two rabbits, you won’t catch either one.” When I multitask, as the expression goes, am I really catching either of the rabbits I need to catch?
To compound the issue, we lawyers listen to respond rather than listening to understand. Law school has trained us – and done a fine job at it – to listen to what another person is saying and immediately formulate an argument that rebuts that person’s position. I have learned this the hard way with my lawyer-spouse, Jeanine. The mark of a great lawyer, after all, is the power of oration and persuasion, and based on how our arguments usually go, Jeanine is clearly the superior lawyer. But a different and more important question is whether the responding person really understood the first person’s position or argument before choosing to respond.
The distinction is key, particularly when personal relationships and difficult subjects are involved. From conducting voir dire to negotiating a business deal, real communication requires effective listening just as much as (if not more than) effective speaking.[ii] Listening actively to what someone says rather than focusing on the literal meaning of the words spoken can provide greater insight and improve productivity within your organization.[iii] Colleagues who feel they have been heard are more likely to feel valued and remain loyal to the organization.[iv] In addition, leaders who actively listen catch things that other would miss and are better informed when making decisions.[v]
I suspect that I am not alone in these listening faults. The lack of civil discourse present in society certainly seems to confirm that others struggle with this as well. So, how do we train ourselves to really listen to others and be engaged in the moment?
Artful listening includes hearing not only what is said but also what is not said.[vi] Non-verbal cues––body language, posturing, and tone, for example––can convey a great deal about what is really being said.[vii] Maintaining eye contact and using reassuring facial expressions convey to the speaker that you are hearing them. When you also confirm what you heard and ask open-ended questions to follow up, you increase the likelihood you are truly communicating. Resist the temptation to interrupt or think only about what to say next; both diminish your ability to listen closely.[viii] Your non-verbal cues, especially those that signal you are bored or impatient can overpower anything that you say. This skill can be especially beneficial when giving feedback to a team member as you convey that this conversation is important.
Practicing artful listening can be done on a daily basis with friends, loved ones, and strangers alike. Becoming a master will help you build and maintain relationships. These deep relationships will pay dividends years after the first conversation. For lawyers, active listeners are better at witness examinations and voir dire during trial, at connecting with clients, with catching the nuances of office politics, and is critical for developing cultural competence. And for leaders, artful listening contributes to team trust, good decision-making, and fewer unpleasant surprises.
Law school provides ample opportunities to teach students to listen to respond, but it also provides opportunities to train students to artfully listen. Any course that focuses upon developing Legal analysis and problem-solving skills would be well served to include a section on active listening. Specific classes that focus upon relationships, such as client counseling, negotiations, or ADR, are also ripe for an artful listening discussion. Below are some exercises that can be used to practice artful listening.
Have each student sit in a comfortable position and engage in mindfulness, closing their eyes, calming their breathing, and noting their heart rate and physical self. Are they calm and relaxed? Is some part of the body tense or tight? What is going on mentally – is the brain active and scattered or focused and calm? Spend a few moments with the students getting in touch with their bodies and minds using one or more of the following techniques:[x]
Focus on the rising and falling of the breath;
Pay attention to how your feet feel as they touch the floor;
Do a full-body scan, starting at the top of the head and moving to the feet. Note any areas of tension.
Imagine bright, warm sunlight streaming down on you;
Let your mind think about whatever it wants – no judgment
For faculty comfortable with leading a meditation moment, feel free to use the techniques noted above. If you’d like to use an internet video, take a look at the resources available on Headspace.com.
After the students try these methods, have them think about what felt easiest and most calming for them.
Next, have the students think about a difficult or stressful situation. Note how the body and mind react. Now, try to refocus the students back to the state of physical and mental calm they were in previously.[xii] How might they do this in a professional setting while listening to a boss, judge, or client?
Pair all of the students. Ask each pair to arrange their chairs so that they are back to back. One student in each pair will be given a piece of paper with a couple of shapes on it. The second student sits with his or her back to the student holding the paper. The second student should not be able to see his or her partner’s paper, or the paper (with shapes) of any other student. Using only the methods of communication instructed, the second student will attempt to duplicate the shapes on the paper in front of the first student.
The shapes on the paper can be anything (they can be a star inside of a rectangle, a circle overlapping a square, trapezoid, and diamond, etc.). For an example, please see below.
For the first round, the student with the paper with shapes will describe the shapes and instruct his or her partner on how to draw the shapes on their paper. Give the students about a minute to complete the exercise, but explain that this is a one-way communication exercise; the students drawing cannot talk to their partners or ask questions.
After a minute, telling the drawing students to take out another piece of paper and try again. Give them another minute, but this time, it is a two-way communication exercise; allow them to talk to their partners and ask clarifying questions about the instructions they’re receiving.
Once done, have the students show their partners and each other their drawings, compared to the original. The first example (with one-way communication) is usually way off from the original, but the second example (with two-way communication) is usually much closer (comparatively speaking).
This exercise demonstrates how hard it is to understand exactly what someone is saying when they’re speaking to you. It also demonstrates the power of artful listening and the importance of asking good questions to clarify understanding.
[i] John C. Maxwell, Leadership Gold: Lessons I’ve Learned from a Lifetime of Leading 50 (Thomas Nelson 2008).
[ii] See Elle Kaplan, “Active Listening”: The Key to Strong Workplace Relationships, Productivity, and Personal Empowerment, Medium (Aug. 22, 2018), https://medium.com/@ellekaplan/active-listening-the-key-to-strong-workplace-relationships-productivity-and-personal-72650f32da4c.
[vi] Sir Andrew Likierman, The Elements of Good Judgment, Harv. Bus. Rev. (Jan. 2020), https://hbr.org/2020/01/the-elements-of-good-judgment.
[vii] Kaplan, supra note 2.
[ix] Erin Olivo, Two Simple Mindful Meditation Exercises for Teachers, The Guardian (Dec. 6, 2015), https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/dec/06/two-simple-mindful-meditation-exercises-for-teachers.
Join Baylor Law in welcoming Susan Eisenhower, political consultant, historian, think-tank leader, author, and granddaughter of Dwight David Eisenhower as she shares her insight on the principles behind the biggest decisions of one of America’s greatest leaders of the 20th century.
Interviewed by renowned attorney and author Talmage Boston, Susan Eisenhower will share her insight on how Ike led.
Who among us is not convinced of the importance of being a leader who listens? Study after study has addressed the value of listening, and many articles have chastised us for being poor listeners. Many writers have encouraged us to work harder to develop that skill, including an article that I wrote with Dr. Hal Ritter nearly 20 years ago. I submit that most of us are in agreement that listening is a skill to be developed and fostered. Speaking for myself, however, true active listening frequently falls by the wayside unless I’m intentional about it. Between multitasking during telephone calls or Zoom meetings, contemplating other tasks on my to-do list, or simply formulating my response to what a speaker is saying, I often recognize belatedly that the speaker has not had my full attention and engagement, and that I have indeed missed important verbal and nonverbal cues. I don’t think I’m alone in this.
Consequently, our first challenge—literally and figuratively—for the next 30 days is to become more intentional about listening. Your challenge—and ours—is to listen actively to the people with whom we speak, giving undivided attention. We challenge you to not just hear or even listen superficially, but to listen intently, in a quest to understand the speaker’s words, perspective, and motivations. We also urge you to listen for what isn’t being said. Over the next few weeks, we will share with our progress and thoughts and items to encourage you to focus on listening. We hope you’ll share with us your own thoughts.
As I write this, our nation waits anxiously for who will win
the presidential election. I use the word ‘win’ advisedly, as it seems
difficult to conceive of a result that will be accepted with grace and
unification by those on the ‘losing’ side. Bitter disputes make for more
difficult times after resolution, and this is as true in a legal setting such
as a trial as in this electoral cycle. The participation trophy does not apply;
these are binary situations in which there is a winner and a loser. The challenge
for leadership, then, lies in how to proceed in such a deeply divisive and
potentially disappointing time.
For the winner, leadership requires modeling grace and
conciliation. While victory feels good, the real challenge is moving forward in
a way that recognizes the struggle and humanity of your opponent. We learned
the lesson of punitive victory following World War I with the Treaty of
Versailles. WWI’s victors felt the need to exact retribution from the Germans,
placing a crushing burden on the country both financially and emotionally. This
was an understandable desire given the unbelievable toll of the war, but the
consequence was another more horrific war. We will never know how world events
would have unfolded with a more conciliatory plan to move forward; we know with
irrefutable evidence the damage that a cruel victory exacted.
Lawyer are experienced in situations where there are winners
and losers. Whether in trial or
negotiating a deal, there likely will be a winner, and the party on the losing
side may reel at the impact of that decision. Sometimes the impact is
financial; sometimes it is emotional; oftentimes it involves both. Lawyers can
play a vital role in helping colleagues, friends, families, and communities find
a graceful way to move forward and bring healing to what is a difficult situation
for both sides.
What of the losing party: how do you deal with difficult news
you did not want to hear? How as a lawyer do you advise a client or bolster the
morale of a team? This requires true courage and thoughtfulness. First, you
have to help the team and client accept the outcome, especially if it
represents the true end of the road. In many ways, accepting a known outcome,
albeit difficult, is easier than one which remains uncertain. Second, debrief
and learn the lessons of the loss. This may mean examining processes or
leadership decisions; it may simply require an understanding that lawyers are not
in the outcome control business. Either way, help your team learn, accept, and
move on. Finally, have a plan for going forward. More senior lawyers can help
younger lawyers, and law students, learn how to bounce back and developing resilience
as a team strength happens most effectively following a loss. Success is not
about how high you bounce, it is about how high you bounce back after hitting
bottom. A team that cannot bounce back is fundamentally flawed; leading your
team back to confidence is vital.
Our country will need to internalize these leadership lessons
in the coming months. No one will ‘win’ this election if we do not learn that
we must come together for the country, not for an individual or ideology. Our
leaders, whoever they may be, will win only if they reunite the country rather
than divide them more deeply. The current course is not sustainable; we must
move forward with the help of strong and compassionate leadership.
I kicked off our first #ThankfulThursday on April 2 by expressing gratitude for the many blessings in my life, from my personal family to my professional family â that which we call the Baylor Law family. Then a few nights later, during a restless interval in the middle of the night, I sent all our students an email. Knowing that we ask much of our students even during normal times, I wanted to share with them a sense of togetherness and an understanding of our common concerns during this unprecedented time. Here is the message I sent them:
‘On Thursday, I shared what I am thankful for. Now for what keeps me up at night…
Am I doing enough? Am I enough?
I battle with these feelings often, but I share what is on my mind tonight.
Am I enough?
To my 83 year-old mother who has Alzheimer’s and other underlying health conditions and doesn’t understand why I can’t give her a hug. She spent her life devoted to caring for others. Whoever needed her most that day – my dad, my three siblings and I, then our kids, and, all the while, other family, friends and neighbors when we were not in need. She would lay down her life for any of us … or you, and yet now she doesn’t understand why I can’t come in and stay when I drop off food or groceries. Why none of us can. The loneliness of that disease is torturous in the best of times.
To my young grandkids who must think I have abandoned them during this time of COVID-19 quarantine. My four-year-old grandson says âMimi, when you aren’t sick anymore, you can hold me. He doesn’t understand I am not the one who is sick – at least I don’t think so. His brother, the six-year old, just wants to know when he can come over and spend the night again … the way they used to. And I am sure the grandkids in East Texas don’t understand why they didn’t get the box of Fruity Pebbles in the Amazon shipment received when we asked what we could send them. Unlike many of the other popular cereals, it was available, but at $12.95 a box? Really? Seriously! There ought to be a law, wait, there is!
To other family and friends, who are also struggling with isolation, illness, insecurities and uncertainties. How can I be there for them? I want to! If only I could. Virtual formats can’t replace sitting with someone as they cry while you hold them.
To our students who need someone to ease your anxiety, to reassure you and to help with your burdens. I wish I could be there to do something, to tell you how much we believe in you! That you are a child of God and therefore loved.
In times of uncertainty about my abilities and questioning my insecurities, I often look to others for inspiration. Here are some I found tonight on a website:
‘Helen Keller: Lost her sight and hearing due to a mysterious fever when she was only 18 months old. She overcame her deafness and blindness to become a strong, educated woman who spoke about, and promoted, women’s rights.
Winston Churchill: Overcame a stuttering problem and poor performance in school to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and one of the most influential political leaders of the twentieth century. He was also known for his powerful and rousing speeches.
Wilma Rudolph: The Olympian born prematurely, the 20th of 22 children. She overcame double pneumonia, scarlet fever and polio to become winner of three Gold medals in track at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games
. . .
J.K. Rowling:. Born to a poor family; left a bad marriage with a young baby to live on government assistance; wrote her first Harry Potter book and was turned down by most publishers until Bloomsbury Publishing picked it up. Need I say more?
Determination, resilience, and persistence enabled all of these great people to push past their adversities and prevail. If they could do it, surely the rest of us can summon the strength and courage to do overcome our adversities!
I know this period has been a challenge for all and for some an extremely difficult period. While we know it is temporary, that does not ease the burdens you carry now. Please know that we are here for you to help as we can. It may not offer sufficient solace now, but my many years of experience allows me to assure you that someday this difficult time you are experiencing now will allow you to better serve a client, assist a friend, comfort a loved one or help a community. And we know that as Baylor Lawyers you will do all those and more.
An inscription on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abbey:
âWhen I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.
As I grew older and wiser I discovered the world would not change â So I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, but it too seemed immovable.
As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.
And now I realize as I lie on my deathbed, if I had only changed myself first, then by example I might have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement I would then have been able to better my country,
And who knows, I might have even changed the world.â
Before you can lead an organization or community â¦ before
you can impact the world â¦ you must first âleadâ yourself. For us, the most important aspect of any
leadership development program is to start with a focus on âgrowingâ yourself. Easier
said than done! But why? Could it be
that we are too eager to skip ahead to leaving our mark on the world? We can be
so focused on doing the âimportantâ and wanting to be remembered for what we accomplish
that we forget leadership â like any other subject in law school â begins at
the beginning. There is no substitute for the elemental work that feeds our growth
layer by layer, branch by branch.
In our leadership development course, we spend about half our time guiding the students on a journey of self-discovery. Since we begin every orientation at Baylor Law with emphasis on the role of lawyers in society (as guardians of our democracy, trusted advisors to their clients and leaders in their communities), we do not start from ground zero in our leadership development class. We begin with a deeper discussion of our obligations to society and the important opportunities they will have to be influencers with integrity. After setting expectations for their future, we introduce them to leadership characteristics, traits, and styles, as well as various scenarios where their leadership will be needed. Starting with these concepts, terms and contexts â the language of leadership development â sets the foundation.
The core of our leadership class is devoted to helping
students come to âknowâ themselves â their preferences, strengths, and areas of
challenge. We know this is essential to prepare them for future situations that
will require them to act and to make decision, or to offer guidance to those
who will. We guide our students through
a series of discussions, self-assessments and self-reflective exercises
designed to help them be better prepared, even practiced, for those future
actions and opportunities. Just as with other areas, we know that students are
more likely to handle a difficult or stressful situation, even a crisis, with
competence and integrity if they have seen or at least thought about the scenario,
or a similar one, at some time before. That is the wisdom and judgment gained
through practice and experience.
We also spend some time in our course on what it means to âleadâ others (including working well with others, recognizing the influence lawyers can have on others, and successfully building an inclusive team). We end with an attempt to inspire students to consider the impact they want to have on the world and then to be thoughtful, strategic and adaptive as they plan their next steps. Â
Leadership development is a life-long journey to be better at helping others be more and accomplish more. As lawyers, our legal education and training, and our sense of honor and purpose as guardians of our democracy, make us ideally suited to impact those around us â¦ and, yes, maybe even change the worldâ¦ if we recognize early enough that it all begins with us.
âGive me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.â – Abraham Lincoln
In case you missed it: âThe legal
profession doesnât have a leadership problemâit has a character problemâ, by
Charles Edwards. Mr. Edwards post in the ABA Journal is wonderful write-up on
the importance of character in leadership. As Leah and I frequently discuss
with law students, leadership alone is not enough â ethical leadership
is the key to long-term success. By integrating best practices into leadership
courses, we are preparing our students for their future roles.
In case you missed it: âLawyer Leadership Secrets to Successâ by Liam Montgomery. In the style of Jocko Willink and Leif Babin (authors of Extreme Ownership), Mr. Montgomery translates lessons learned in military service to leadership for lawyers. In this article he focuses upon giving and receiving feedback â a critical skill for any leader. The article is definitely worth the read if youâre looking for more feedback material to give to students: http://www.abajournal.com/voice/article/lawyer-leadership-secret-to-success