From Tipping the Scales: Judge Edward Leibensperger: “True Leaders Share Credit and…”

Judge Edward (“Ned”) Leibensperger serves as an Associate Justice on the Superior Court. Prior to his appointment to the court, he served as partner at McDermott Will & Emery, where he had a national civil litigation practice, and before that as a partner at Nutter McClennen & Fish. He is a past President of the Boston Bar Association, and he currently serves on the Boston Bar Journal’s Board of Editors. Additionally, Judge Leibensperger has dedicated thousands of hours to pro bono and community service, and received the Supreme Judicial Court’s Pro Bono Award in 2010.

1.      What is the most common mistake you notice in those seeking or undertaking a leadership position?

For those seeking a leadership position, a common mistake is not prioritizing the effort that will advance your goal. It may be that you are of two minds whether to seek or accept leadership. I suggest to anyone who might consider taking on a leadership role to clarify your goals and firmly decide to devote the time and resources to achieving those goals. Failure to be open and inclusive can also be a liability. In some of my proudest moments as President of the BBA, consensus-building was key.

 2.      How do you balance duties as a leader in a volunteer organization with meeting the demands of your other full-time work?

It can be a difficult balance. You may feel torn between billable time and volunteer efforts. But if you want to be involved as a leader, you need to commit the time to do the job and treat the volunteer position as high a priority as your billable time. Without this understanding, you may miss valuable opportunities to take on and commit to the right role.

 3.      What advice would you give to the head of a volunteer organization about guiding it?

First, find outstanding people to support you and put them in positions of responsibility. Cultivate an excellent staff and select dedicated volunteers. That’s the bottom line: find good people. Another thing I keep in mind – true leaders give credit to others when things go well and take personal responsibility when things go badly.


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