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Updated: May 27, 2019 Editor’s Take

Leadership best practices from Greater Hartford’s top leaders

Sam Gray, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Hartford, at Hartford Business Journal's 2019 90 Ideas in 90 Minutes event.
Greg Bordonaro, Editor

In our opinion-and-commentary section each week, we often get contributed columns about leadership.

There are many expert opinions on what makes a great leader. It’s someone who can inspire. Be innovative. Outwit and outlast the competition. Someone who cares deeply about the well-being of their employees.

The truth is, no matter what people say, leaders come in all different shapes, sizes and backgrounds, and their styles and philosophies can differ considerably.

Nowhere was that more evident than at Hartford Business Journal’s recent “90 Ideas in 90 Minutes” event held at the Hartford Club. I rarely flak HBJ events, but this one seems to move the audience each year like no other, and it’s worth attending if you are a veteran executive or aspiring leader.

For those who are unfamiliar with the event, we invite nine CEOs to share their 10 ideas for leadership best practices. Each participant is given five minutes to present their ideas in any manner they see fit.

What was striking about this year’s event was the diversity in personalities and viewpoints. There was the aspirational and uplifting leader — Sam Gray, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Hartford.

The down-to-earth executive — Drew Andrews, managing partner and CEO of Hartford-based accounting firm Whittlesey. There were also the innovative leaders — Dr. Edison Liu and Shana Schlossberg, CEOs of The Jackson Laboratory and Upward Hartford, respectively.

One common thread among all the speakers was the passion they had for their jobs. Well, “jobs” actually isn’t the right word. None of the speakers viewed themselves as having a job, per se. They view their CEO roles as an extension of who they are and that’s what drives them to be successful leaders.

Only event attendees received the booklet that listed all 90 ideas shared by the speakers, but here’s a peek at a few of them. It’s a worthwhile exercise to compare your leadership playbook to theirs.

People can be forced to walk, but they can only be inspired to fly. Heroes act because of a higher cause and truly successful organizations are driven by an inspiring vision. — Dr. Edison Liu, President & CEO, The Jackson Laboratory

Make self-examination a habit. In life and in business, you will go through many phases, you will make mistakes and you will come across countless obstacles on your way to achieving your goals. If you do not examine yourself, you risk living a stagnant life. — Sam Gray, President & CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford.

Don’t be married to your budget. Budgets are like training wheels. They help new players learn to bike, but experienced players know their business and adapt in real time to real factors. — Bruce Mandell, Chairman & CEO, Hartford Athletic; President, Data-Mail.

Invest in the next generation of leaders. Sharing your time and talent with emerging leaders is the best way to repay the generosity of each person who invested human capital in you. — Lynn Ricci, President & CEO, Hospital for Special Care.

Think controversially. Be a fearless disrupter — challenge everything around you. — Shana Schlossberg, CEO, Upward Hartford.

Foster mutual respect. Everyone’s ideas, thoughts, comments, feedback, etc., should be welcome and respected regardless of position, title or tenure. — Ray Pineault, President & General Manager, Mohegan Sun.

Don’t let long-term goals interfere with short-term thinking. I never set long-term goals. I set a general direction and manage toward that. — Curt Cameron, President, Thomas Hooker Brewing Co.

Trust your judgement. Feedback and best practices are important references. But, at the end of the day, trust your experiences and instincts. — Min Jung Kim, Director & CEO, New Britain Museum of American Art.

Always tell the truth. Honesty and integrity above all. — Drew Andrews, Managing Partner & CEO, Whittlesey.

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