Learning from Leadership: Lon Povich on Accepting Change

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Povich, LonLon Povich is Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of BJ’s Wholesale Club. He is a member of the BBA’s Council, and was Chair of the BBA’s Public Policy Development Working Group. Lon served on the Judicial Nominating Commission from 2005 to 2010, and is a member of the BBA’s Statewide Task Force to Expand Legal Aid in Massachusetts and of the Advisory Committee to the Business Litigation Section of the Massachusetts Superior Court.  He is also Treasurer, Chair of the Audit Committee, and a Board Member at the Greater Boston Food Bank.

  1. How does one adapt to change within one’s organization and help to guide it at the same time?

I think the key to adapting to change is to be open to the ambiguity and uncertainty that goes along with organizations in the midst of change.  It is essential not to be tied to the current way of doing things.  People tend to think that whatever is going on in the present, good or bad, will continue for the future, which is certainly not true. If you are willing to change, you need to model openness and acceptance to others in the organization. After you have yourself and your team in a productive, change-accepting mind frame, you can help shape the change process to achieve the most optimal results possible.

  1. What are the benefits of seeking and/or holding leadership roles in a variety of fields or subject areas?

It’s probably true that there’s little that can replace experience. The broader one’s experience set, the more history or analogy you can bring to bear when responding to a challenge. You need to have a basic skill set, of course, but seeing the way that different fact patterns have worked in various circumstances in the past will be a great asset in dealing with new issues.

  1. What advice would you give to someone trying to develop a skill set that will prepare them to handle diverse challenges or roles in shifting environments?

There is no magic bullet for success in responding to diverse challenges. You have to acquire good basic skills in research and analysis, in organization, and in oral and written communications.  Those are the big three (or maybe the big five.) At the same time, if you’re trying to experience diverse, interesting, and exciting roles, you have to be willing to try different things as opportunities present themselves. At the end of the day, you need both the right skills and an open mind to new adventures.

  1. Is there anything you would want to say about being a leader that we haven’t covered otherwise?

Leaders must inspire their teams and create an environment for success—but there is no one right way to be a leader. You have to build on your own unique strengths and assets. Not everyone can lead like John Wayne, after all. Great leaders come in all shapes and sizes, but they all seem to project three traits: vision, confidence, and charisma.

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