Russell Button, founder of The Button Law Firm, with his mom and dadI’ve always believed that true leaders leave an indelible mark on their organizations and the people they inspire. National Leadership Day is on Feb. 20, and I find myself reflecting on the profound impact my father, the greatest leader I’ve known, has had on my life and the invaluable lessons he has imparted. Coincidence or not, it shouldn’t be surprising that my dad’s birthday also happens to be in February.

My dad’s journey began when he moved from a small farming community in Northeast Pennsylvania to Texas after high school. His career took root in the field of commercial fire protection, where he started at the ground level in a company called Texas Sprinkler. Back then, it was just a handful of people. My dad worked his way up through the 1980s, demonstrating resilience and dedication. By the mid-’90s, he had climbed to the top. In 2004, he became the sole owner until his retirement in 2022.

His journey wasn’t just about running a business; it was about being a leader every step of the way. Growing up, I witnessed firsthand how he navigated challenges and led with unwavering determination. Little did I know that these experiences would shape my own approach to leadership as I created The Button Law Firm. Here are some timeless leadership lessons I’ve learned from my father that resonate across any field.

Be Willing to Do It All

My dad stood by the principle of never asking anyone to do something he wouldn’t do himself. He worked his way up from the lowest position in the business to every single office position and, finally, to the company's owner. Because of this, he knew every position inside and out and could build new systems with these experiences in mind.

That’s something I apply to myself. At one point, it was just me here at the firm, so I answered phones, faxed documents, visited clients and managed finances all by myself. I’d be the BLF janitor and landscaper on the weekends!

Like my father, there hasn’t been one duty I haven’t had to do myself. This hands-on approach built a foundation of trust and respect.

Lead by Example

In a similar vein, my father also ensured he led by example. If you want people to work hard, you need to work hard first. This is something that doesn’t happen overnight. You must take time to show the best version of yourself and do it consistently. I learned from my dad that you must set this bar above the average, from the good to the great to the highest legacy-making level of leadership.

How does this happen? This means showing up for your team and being prepared for anything. Of course, this entails sacrifices on your part, but what you get in return is a team that knows exactly how they are expected to perform.

Never Stop Evolving

Embracing change and staying ahead of the curve was one of his key mantras. He understood that complacency is the enemy of progress. This principle is something I continue to apply at BLF, ensuring we adapt to evolving industry dynamics and technological advancements.

Keep your finger on the pulse and implement new practices and technology with the mindset that there will be trial and error before visible improvement. These times, you need to find ways to finetune and own any mistakes. Once that system is in place, you and your team must discover how to automate it.

Value Visionary Leadership

Annual meetings recapping the past year and setting goals for the new year were a tradition at my dad’s business. This vision cascaded down to quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals. With his structured approach, he provided direction and fostered a sense of purpose among the team.

He would take this vision and create smaller, more frequent meetings with different teams in the company. They would collaborate and fine-tune their efforts. If each team member knows the company’s vision and how it is in their best interest, they will work hard to push forward.

As The Button Law Firm continues to grow, we do vision meetings like these more often. We meet with the entire team every January, and then we have quarterly and weekly meetings to discuss micro vision goals. Feedback is a cornerstone of growth. My dad created an environment where feedback was not just encouraged but essential.

Care for Key People

Finding and retaining key individuals is a challenge, but my dad excelled at it. He created a team of dedicated professionals by recognizing people’s gifts, placing them in roles that aligned with those gifts, and fostering a culture of loyalty. Of course, he pushed them, but in the end, these key people are the ones who are motivated by challenges.

Some big companies think money is what drives people. This isn’t the case. Loyalty drives people forward, and The Button Law Firm has plenty of long-term team members dedicated to our firm. To earn this loyalty, you need to show compassion for them when they need it. Do everything in your power to support them, and they will return this care tenfold.

Leaders Eat Last

My dad believed in sharing rewards and treating everyone equally. No leader should have privileges that others don’t. Leadership comes with sacrifices. Protecting the team’s interests from external pressures or internal challenges builds trust.

As National Leadership Day approaches, I celebrate the principles of leadership and the living example of a leader, my dad. His legacy is not just in the success of the company he built but in the lives he positively influenced, including mine. Happy birthday, Dad, and here’s to the leaders who shape our present and inspire our future.

Russell Button
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Dallas, Houston, and Midland Texas trial and personal injury lawyer dedicated to securing justice for clients.
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