Pedro Ramos: First, seek to serve

Pedro A. Ramos: "The only real capital my parents had ... were values, work ethic. " YONG KIM / Staff Photographer

"First seek to serve," said Pedro A. Ramos, chairman of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, and a partner with Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP in Center City Philadelphia, when I asked him for his advice on leadership for Monday's Leadership Agenda story.

Secondly, "work hard and be rigorous. I think of those as two different things," Ramos said.

"One is effort. The other one is being willing to make sure [you get]  the best understanding you can get of facts and circumstances. A lot of challenges require leadership. By definition, challenges require significant problem solving.  And problem solving requires understanding as much as you can about the problem or opportunity that you are trying to address. [It's] really not ignoring the technical, where lots of people just talk.

"The other thing," he said, "is that you have to be willing to lead. You have to be willing to take chances and do unpopular things. The only comfort that you have in doing that is that you are as well-prepared as you can be when you have to make decisions or set a course."

Click here to read Monday's blog post about what Ramos thinks local leaders don't understand about the school situation in Philadelphia.