As part of the Park Leadership Speaker Series held at the Johnson School, distinguished Cornell alum Larry Tanenbaum ’68, gave a keynote speech yesterday evening on the themes of leadership and entrepreneurship.
Tanenbaum, who graduated from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with a B.S. in economics, has had a long and varied career in the business industry. He is currently the chair and CEO of Kilmer Van Nostrand Co. Ltd., a construction company that specializes in infrastructure projects within Canada, the United States and South America.
An avid sports enthusiast since his days as a student manager for the Cornell hockey team, Tanenbaum was recently appointed as chair of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd., and is the NBA Governor for the Toronto Raptors and the NHL Governor for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In July 2003, Tanenbaum was named the most influential sports figure in Canada.
Robert J. Swieringa, Dean of the Johnson Graduate School of Management, introduced Tanenbaum to the audience, citing his “accomplishments in business and business sports [as] truly amazing.”
In his address, Tanenbaum stressed integrity, networking, and the ability to communicate effectively as the three most important qualities of an outstanding leader.
“Your leadership is evident in the integrity of every action,” Tannenbaum said, noting that integrity translates to outstanding credibility. “People must be able to trust you.”
Tannenbaum gave the example of Toronto Maple Leafs Coach Pat Quinn, whose integrity on and off the ice earned him credibility among the players on his team. Tanenbaum also mentioned Coach Bill Belichick, who led the New England Patriots to three Superbowl titles, as someone whose “personal philosophies of team work are steeped in integrity.”
Noting the lapses in integrity among the former leaders of Enron and Worldcom, Tanenbaum emphasized that integrity “paves the way for leaders to follow in [your] footsteps.” Tanenbaum challenged those in the audience to make the “commitment to decide to live everyday [of your] life with complete integrity.”
Tanenbaum also touched on the importance of networking and building good relationships with company managers as well as stakeholders. “No one can achieve optimal success alone,” he said. “Don't wait until you graduate [to build networks],” he advised.
Tanenbaum’s philosophies on good leadership have been similarly echoed in the works of acclaimed management consultant Peter F. Drucker and Pulitzer prize-winner James McGregor Burns. Drucker also stresses conduct and responsibility and a high standard of performance as important qualities in a good leader.
In closing, Tanenbuam urged those in the audience to “shape [their] own future success by challenging [themselves].” Recalling his own days as an undergraduate at Cornell, when he sat in lecture halls and was inspired by influential speakers such as Leon Spear and Robert Kennedy, Tanenbuam invited those in the audience to return to Cornell in thirty or forty years to speak to future generations and to “tell them how they, too, can be leaders.”
Archived article by Samira Chandwani
Sun Staff Writer