Robert Walters Group legal heads nominated for global ‘Be Kind’ award

Written by Guy Burchett  •  Resource Solutions  •  19 November 2020

Richard Harris, Chief Legal Officer, and Maria Polemitis, Head of Legal at Robert Walters Group have joined only a handful of senior legal professionals across the globe to be recognised in the Global Leaders in Law ‘Be Kind’ report.

The report shines a light on the often-unnoticed acts of kindness that are taking place within the global in-house community – either personal or professional.

Rhiannon Van Ross - VP, Global Memberships for Global Leaders in Law comments:

“Kindness is a key component of an inspirational leader’s toolkit to create an engaged and productive workforce. Exemplary executive business leaders recognise the need for a greater deployment of emotional intelligence (EQ). A heightened EQ increases the general counsel’s ability to build influence throughout the organisation and successfully mobilise a collaborative team.”

Both Richard and Maria have been described by their peers as honest, considered, empathetic, authentic, and respectful – all of which GLL describe as key characteristics of a strong in-house leader.

Robert Walters Group’s Chief Legal Officer, Richard Harris, was nominated for being ‘a great boss and leader that creates an inspiring and enjoyable work environment.’ He states:

“Kindness, in my book, is about having empathy, thoughtfulness and consideration for others; and, with that in mind, doing the small things which make life a bit easier or brighter. It's not the grand heroics but the day-to-day. It's about ‘doing kind’ more so than merely ‘being kind’. It's part of the building blocks of a personal brand where your colleagues and peers are in an ‘I want to be here; I want to be part of this’ mindset.

“I make no apologies for enjoying a chat. At times like this, it’s incredibly important to take an interest in your team members’ lives outside of work and also for them to see you as an individual. My team are my work family. It is not in me to be detached from them.”

Head of Legal for UKMEA & Ireland, Maria Polemitis, was nominated for ‘her calming presence and authentic leadership style, underpinned by her human-centred approach.’ Maria comments:

“I believe people are more engaged when they feel sincerely valued, appreciated, seen and heard. Kindness puts people at ease and facilitates a more authentic sharing of ideas and diverse intelligence. In this way you maximise the potential of individuals and groups as people bring more of themselves to the table. Showing kindness when delivering feedback fosters trust in relationships. I do not think you can be a good leader without trust.

“I’ve learnt that it’s important to be kind to yourself too. I think as lawyers we are innate helpers and on some level, we need to be needed. However, we so often forget that we cannot assist others effectively when our energy reservoirs are empty. It’s vital to take pockets of time to recharge – physically, emotionally and mentally.”

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