Equitable President Nick Lane Asks, “How Do You Keep Score?”

In this edition of our Corporate Competitor Podcast, Maxwell Leadership Thought Leader Don Yaeger sits down with Equitable President Nick Lane to discuss what lacrosse taught him about leadership and the scoreline that matters more than points scored. 

Playing lacrosse at Princeton taught Nick Lane that there are different ways of keeping score, whether the game being played is on a field or in a business or, simply, in life. One way to keep score involves winning, which, in collegiate lacrosse, ultimately means winning the National Championship. By that definition, Lane certainly learned how to keep score at Princeton as the Tigers won two national championships during his undergraduate years.

Today, as the president of Equitable, in charge of the company’s Retirement, Wealth Management and Protection Solution businesses and its Marketing and Digital functions, Lane keeps score using a different criteria, one he also learned at Princeton playing under legendary coach Bill Tierney.

“The role of a leader is to make people better,” said Lane. “What truly made Coach Tierney special, and I think this is true of all great coaches, was that it wasn’t just about winning the games. He wanted to change people’s lives.” And it was his coach’s notion of keeping score by the impact you have on people that Lane also extended to his own career in business.

“What do you do for the American public? What do you do for your clients? How are you helping them be successful in their journeys?” asked Lane.

By now, it should be clear to readers that Lane is a strong proponent of servant leadership, the practice of taking responsibility for your team’s success, while, in turn, holding individual team members to a high level of accountability. Like a great coach, a great business leader makes people better by setting a certain tone, helping teammates develop their individual skills, setting goals for the team and helping every team member believe in the team’s purpose—and in each other.

In the podcast, Lane shares lessons learned not only on the lacrosse field and C-Suite, but also as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps where he was responsible for a wide range of logistics, training and other areas. Listeners to the podcast will learn:

6:00   How easy it is to cut corners in practice and why you’ll suffer as a result.

8:00   How to emphasize the power or “we” on your team.

11:00  How living and working in Japan in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster taught Lane that caring was the universal language of respected leaders.

15:00  The level of employee interaction required to achieve success.

18:30  The difference between being accountable and responsible.

27:00  How to identify a meaningful friend or mentor.

To be a good servant leader, avers Lane, you keep score differently. “Your communication skills or industry knowledge don’t matter as much,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what culture you’re in. If people see that you care, they will follow you.”


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