Michael K. Tucker
EVP, General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer, Avis Budget Group, Inc.
MY GREATEST STRENGTH
My listening skills are my greatest strength. When I am in an adversarial situation, letting the other side know that I am really listening and understanding their position tends to lower their defenses, which usually makes it easier to find points of agreement. When advising clients, I find that focused listening results in better counsel.
I am inspired by people who struggle to overcome significant challenges in their lives with integrity—and then, use their success to pull others along. These include not only famous historical figures like Gandhi, King, and Mandela, but also people I know personally who have helped to motivate me in dealing with my personal challenges and inspired me to play their support forward in assisting others—people like Charisse Lillie (President, Comcast Foundation), Jim Breedlove (General Counsel, Praxair, Inc.), and Winston Lowe (Managing Partner, Lowe & Associates).
HOW I MOTIVATE OTHERS
First, I use my best efforts to lead and motivate by example, which means setting and striving to achieve my own personal and professional goals. Second, I make time to listen, share my experiences, and offer a new perspective on the challenges faced by others.
OUR GREATEST CHALLENGE
Notwithstanding the many examples of African Americans who have truly “been through some stuff” and not only survived, but also overcome and achieved success, many African Americans lack hope and perspective regarding individual and cultural opportunities to do better for themselves and their community through education and personal discipline. No doubt the “system” is still stacked against the individual at the bottom end of the American socioeconomic ladder, but education and personal discipline are the two best boosters to aid the African-American community’s continuing movement forward.
I give back to the African-American community by working with young (and not so young) people through a variety of channels, including organized groups and personal contacts. I give of my time to help others meet their challenges. On a financial front, my wife and I give generously to charities focused on the African-American community, such as the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Bethlehem Baptist Church (Springhouse, PA), and others.
Integrity is the most important value you can have in business. Though it may be difficult at times, and sometimes may even cost you or your company money, the advantages of acting with, and having a reputation for, integrity will dwarf the few times when it may conflict with your goals. And the cost of repairing a damaged reputation will usually be higher than the shortsighted gain associated with a breach of integrity.
To be honest, when it comes to “maintaining balance,” that is still a work-in-progress for me.
I have learned that I have mattered, and do matter, to my family, friends, colleagues, and even people I have never met. It is a both a gift of personal validation and an inspiration to continue to do more.
No matter how small the role or task you are assigned, attempt to understand or master the entire concern. Even if you are not actively engaged in a particular matter, ask as many questions as you can about why and how the project came about and how it is resolved. Like the number two quarterback on a football team or the understudy in a play, you never know when the call will come, or an opportunity will present itself to you at another company, for you to take on an expanded role. You do not want that opportunity to be the first time you have ever thought about what you would do in that role. Additionally, showing interest in areas outside your current role may catch the attention of someone who will begin to see you as having more value to the company than is reflected by your current position.