Part of being a commended leader is being perceived as a role model. For all general counsel, those around you in the legal department as well others who interact with you aspire to be like you (See my post of March 21, 2006: Mike Dillon going without an office; June 10, 21007: Human Capital and leadership practices; and Oct. 30, 2006: GC constantly on stage.).
The words “role model” sound dry, depersonalized. “Inspiring” sounds messianic. “Leader” has more verve, more inspiration. The term “hero,” to be sure, falls far beyond what anyone would say of a general counsel, although an Attorney General who resigns rather than carry out what he perceives to be a wrongful dismissal may come close.
Setting aside the vocabulary of approbation, it is one of the expectations of a general counsel that he or she embody admirable behavior. Whether they like it or not, whether they appreciate its importance or not, general counsel are role models.