I was initially hesitant when asked to share my thoughts on leadership.
Executive SummaryWhat happens when the turnaround is accomplished, the merger done and the new product launched?
Leadership is about more than navigating through these special situations, Tony Kuczinski, the recently retired CEO of Munich Re US, reminds his peers in the industry. "Effective leaders never stop challenging themselves and their teams…I believe the key to long-lasting success as a leader lies in the individual's personal commitment to staying highly motivated, actively engaged and accountable," he writes.
Kuczinski retired from his positions as CEO of Munich Re US P&C Companies and of Munich Re US Holding Inc. on Dec. 31, 2022. As he stepped down and moved on to a strategic adviser role, he reflected on the lessons of his career at the request of Carrier Management. Having served as a leader at Munich Re for more than three decades, he contemplates executive longevity and the question of why some leaders endure in their roles.
A quick Google search will yield thousands of entries—books, articles, online classes, coaching services, conferences, even tropical retreats—devoted to the topic. Whether themed (“servant leadership”) or specialized (“Leadership Lessons From Abe Lincoln”), there is a long list of approaches and philosophies to explore.
Looking back over my three decades in various corporate leadership positions, I wondered if I had anything meaningful to contribute that hadn’t already been said before. But when several colleagues pointed out that my tenure as president and CEO of Munich Re US P&C Companies had lasted about three times longer than the average for a CEO in the United States, I started thinking about other senior executives who have been trusted to lead for the long haul. What separates them from the rest?
Effective leaders never stop challenging themselves and their teams. Whether you are building your career in a new leadership role or have held the top position for a significant period of time, I believe the key to long-lasting success as a leader lies in the individual’s personal commitment to staying highly motivated, actively engaged and accountable. The journey requires heavy doses of discipline, humility, self-awareness and energy.