On this episode of Leading in a Lonely World: Conversations with Transformative Leaders, we meet James (Jim) L. Banks, Jr., General Counsel of SHRM. Jim takes us through his path to leadership beginning with his career as an Airborne Army Ranger to his current position as the chief legal counsel for the largest HR organization in the world. He is adventurous and not content to rest on his laurels, and is always looking for ways to grow and improve. He definitely enjoys a challenge.
Following a long family history of military service, Jim naturally followed this course as a path to college and military service. The lessons learned in the military serve him well today, including the recognition of learning from those you lead and serve with – practicing empathy and genuine listening. He talks about enjoying the mission of the 82nd Airborne where he served “to respond to crisis contingencies anywhere in the world within 18 hours.” This thorough preparedness enabled his team to have the crucial skills needed to be successful and survive. This is how he sees his role as true servant leader.
We talk about how his style of leadership or rather the route and mechanism that leadership is applied in a more distanced working environment. He has had to adapt from “leadership from walking around” to connecting via technology. The pandemic has caused him to be more thoughtful and purposeful about leadership. Both employers and employees need to figure out how to navigate the remote/hybrid model and, as a reminder to new employees, that ultimately the individual is responsible for their own career and progression.
“Find a way to express yourself.” Jim discusses his view on mentorship and how the best mentor/mentee relationships happen organically. His advice to newer attorneys and employees is to be open to many people that may be in a position to mentor you someday. Allow the connections to grow.
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