"Language of Leadership," a special series of webinars, was launched in May by LCLD to share advice from LCLD Members on leading in difficult times. Against the backdrop of current events, these conversations, and the work of LCLD, have taken on new urgency and relevance.
Open to all in the LCLD community (register for upcoming programs by following links at the bottom of this page), the webinars are meant, says LCLD President Robert Grey, to "help everyone manage our current state of crisis—defined by a global pandemic, financial recession, political upheaval, and civil unrest over racial injustice—by sharing strategies and insights from the best in the business."
His first guest, Alan Braverman, Executive VP and General Counsel of the Walt Disney Company, shared wisdom from various stages of his career, which took him from Wilmer Hale in downtown Washington to Disney's worldwide headquarters in Los Angeles, where averting or navigating crisis is part of his job description.
Embrace the moment, says Braverman. "Focus on the road ahead and not on the rearview mirror. A crisis provides an opportunity for clear-sighted leadership. Seize it, own it, demonstrate your worth on a daily basis."
Robert's second episode featured David Leitch (below), General Counsel of Bank of America, whose career path took him from private practice to government service to the pinnacle of corporate America.
As chief counsel of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on September 11, 2001, Leitch was instrumental in mobilizing the country's response, including in-the-moment decisions related to air traffic, inflight safety, airport security, and other measures to protect Americans. And as general counsel of Ford Motor Company from 2005 to 2015, he helped Ford navigate the Great Recession of 2008 and its aftermath.
In any crisis, he says, leaders "have to just be nimble. You have to shift your way of operating, and your way of thinking, quickly and often. You have to constantly evaluate what's being thrown at you. It's all new."
A leader also has to be willing to do anything. "In a crisis, nothing is beneath anybody," he said. "If you have to run down the hall and make copies because there's nobody else to make them, you do it. You don't wait for somebody to call [for help]. You make yourself available. You just go."
The third episode brought together two LCLD board members, Chair Ellen Dwyer of Crowell & Moring and Maryanne Lavan of Lockheed Martin (below), just days after the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. Both shared their perspectives on this moment in our nation's history and cited the obstacles faced by minorities and women in the legal industry that LCLD is committed to removing.
"We're lawyers charged with the pursuit of justice, and I think we, as LCLD, have a responsibility to come together and lead on these issues," said Dwyer. "This is [happening] on our watch."
The conversation then turned to the pandemic, which has put more pressure on diverse lawyers and working mothers with small children, said Lavan. "It's a tough issue," she acknowledged, but leaders can be supportive while also setting realistic expectations for management.
The fourth interview, conducted as mass protests raged across the U.S., featured Kim Rivera (main photo, above), President, Strategy and Business Management and Chief Legal Officer for HP Inc.
In response to Grey's first question, Rivera made clear that issues of racial justice were on her mind.
"This is a moment of intense self-reflection about who [Americans] are, and what, exactly, we're going to do to make things different," she said. "It's as if someone has pulled back a curtain and many of us are seeing something that we can never unsee."
"The role of the law, lawyers, and the legal profession in creating our [justice] system is critical," she went on. "We are, in a sense, guardians of that ideal. We are also the behaviors that we choose to endorse, the positions we choose to take or not take."
Asked about the societal need for more diversity and inclusion, Rivera suggested that the legal industry take a look in the mirror.
"There has been a big disconnect for a long time around the lack of diversity and inclusion in our profession," she said. "It's time to ask ourselves: What is it that has held us back from making the progress we all think should have been made? And what are we willing to do as professionals, as leaders, to drive that change at a scale and at a pace that is commensurate with the urgency of the issue?
"Going forward, making choices and conducting our profession in a way that makes the ideals of our [legal] system a reality is our highest calling. It is what we must do."
Subsequent Language of Leadership webinars featured Ivan Fong of 3M, Carlos Brown of Dominion Energy, and Sharon Barner of Cummins, Inc.
Leadership. Action. Results.