Robert Grooms – KPMG Peat Marwick

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What makes a great leader?

There are a couple of different requirements of a great leader. One thing that I’ve found is that you have to have respect of a great leader. That respect is earned both ways. They have to respect you and give you a certain amount of respect and from that, you turn around and give them that same amount of respect. I think a great example is the boss I have now. He’s been working with the company for 30 years. He has seniority over nearly everyone in our office. But he respects everyone and he treats everyone on a level playing field. And so that respect you get from him, you turn around and want to respect him so much more because you know his position in the company. That is what really makes a great leader.

Do you have a mentor?

I do have a mentor. I have a couple of mentors in my company, one’s a senior manager above me and one’s my partner above me. As part of the mentoring process in our company we meet with them probably three or four times a year. But I think I learned the most and I get the most out of the mentoring process from just watching them from day to day and getting an experiential mentoring process from them. I see how they react to things, how they make different decisions. Our one on one time and our one on one conversations are very profitable to me. But just as profitable is standing back and watching them work, each day. I definitely look at both of them as mentors.

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How do you define success? How has your definition evolved?

I think you can use different measures for success in your professional life, your personal life and just your spiritual life. Professionally, I’d define success as team success. I work in a professional services firm, where we as a team generate and produce deliverable products to our clients. Success, for me, is not only the end product to help our clients, but it’s also the process by which we deliver that product. The client on the other side of us, they only see the other part that we give to them. But from our end and from our perspective, that’s just one very small part and just kind of a consequence of the whole process that we go through. Success for me is really found in the process, making sure the process flows properly, making sure everyone feels like they’re part of the process and that we have the right controls in place and the right roles in place to make sure that we, as a team, are successful.

What does balance mean to you? How important is balance to success?

That’s a good question. In the world we’re moving into, people are working more and more hours … or it seems like they are. They are working at a professional services firm, and we have certain times a year where we have a certain number of hours per week. That balance can only change by the time of the year, but I think it can also change person to person. I’m single, but I work with a lot of people who are married and some of them have children, so the balance for them is a different balance. And so I think a better word and a better thing that we can try to achieve is effectiveness with life. Effectiveness, as opposed to work life balance. If we can be effective in whatever we see as balance, whether it’s being a good parent to our children or being a good husband to our wives or for me, I found it’s effective if I could be involved in other charitable organizations or other things that I can be effective in. I think that translates back to the work place, where you feel like you’re effective outside of work, you feel like you can be effective at work. Balance is important, but I think the key … because balance is kind of an arbitrary term these days … that the key is to be effective, as opposed to being balanced.

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