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History

H. Smith Richardson, Sr.

H. Smith Richardson, Sr.

The inspiration for the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) came from the visionary and highly successful businessman H. Smith Richardson Sr. In the years after Richardson had built the Vick Chemical Co. from a one-drugstore operation into a major international corporation, his thoughts turned to questions of leadership: how can businesses remain vital and continue to provide useful, innovative products and services through economic ups and downs, in the face of changes in the marketplace, and in spite of the inevitable succession of management groups?

Richardson was particularly interested in this last issue. Many enterprises eventually fail, he deduced, because management sooner or later "loses the ability to recognize and adjust to new and changing conditions." What organizations needed was not just leadership for the present and the near future, but innovative leadership with a broader focus and a longer view. Such leadership would be concerned not with profits, markets and business strategies alone, but with the place of business in society. This sort of leadership would come from people, Richardson said, with "minds that could do cross-country thinking." Only by taking into account the broader implications of decisions could a business remain stable and productive "throughout future decades and generations." Sustained success depended on an ability to think and act beyond boundaries to achieve what matters most to individual leaders, organizations and society.

Richardson's dream of an independent institution that would help leaders tap into their full potential was realized with the founding of the Center for Creative Leadership in 1970. The Smith Richardson Foundation Inc. provided the initial financial underpinning for CCL. The Foundation — and several generations of the Richardson family — have remained generous supporters of CCL's work

Read more about the history of CCL.