December 13, 2015

Leaders and their organizations are typically eager to promote core values and brand strengths; however, they are rarely open with the details of their strategy. Which is why I admire my colleague and friend, Gary LeClair, for his transparency during a recent interview.

LeClair, who is co-founder of Richmond-based law firm LeClairRyan, was completely forthright in his answers to tough questions on everything from revenue strategy to differentiation.

Where value is equivalent, we offer a lower price. Where price is equivalent, we offer a higher value… If we execute on our “better, faster, cheaper” brand strategy, and that’s a big “if,” we hope to be able to differentiate from most of our competitors on both price and value, not one or the other.

To some, this information may seem like an internal playbook for business development, and many would keep it private. However, LeClair is both comfortable and confident in his responses. He knows the strategy works for LeClairRyan and that sharing it publicly doesn’t hinder their effort; rather, it builds even more clarity. I believe this comes from a strong practice of candor from LeClair himself and throughout his organization.

Our values also require that we have a culture of learning, not a culture of blame. We reward learning from our mistakes. We encourage moving quickly and consistently measuring and adjusting.

When there is truth and respect rooted in an organization’s values and practices, it allows leaders to speak openly and directly about their successes and challenges.

By no means am I suggesting that we have it figured out, or that 100% of our colleagues are on board with everything we do. That’s a good thing, though. It sharpens our thinking and exposes our blind spots to be challenged vigorously. Great partnerships vigorously debate decisions, and then once made, vigorously support them. 

If we “steal” any strategy from LeClair, let it be his refreshing transparency and profound candor.