Thought For The Day: I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Thought For The Day | Comment

Thought For The Day: True beauty does not shine; it attracts. DR. DEBASISH MRIDHA

Thought For The Day | Comment

Do Women Lawyers and Other Women Leaders Have to be Nice?

A lot has been written in the last few days about what makes a good woman leader.  Those discussions have been within the context of the political arena, which is not too surprising because the Speaker of the House of Representatives is a powerful woman, and the roster of persons announcing to run for POTUS in 2020 is full of powerful women.

So we have read here how Amy Klobuchar, Senator from Minnesota and proclaimed presidential candidate, is perceived by some of her staff as “not nice” and even “mean.”  And today we read here  that Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, uses her experience as the mother of five and grandmother of nine to guide her in keeping the House of Representatives and her caucus moving forward, deal successfully with divergent opinions, build consensus, and avoid chaos among elected officials.

Reading these articles will be very helpful to you in fashioning yourselves as effective female leaders.  I don’t just know that from reading the articles myself, but I know that from my own experiences as a mother, as a chief of staff for an elected official, and as a trial lawyer.  Those experiences have a lot in common.

Those experiences taught me that you should not always want to be liked.  You should not need to have everyone think you are nice.  It is not necessary to make a friend out of everyone.  Sometimes it has to be enough to get the job done well. 

If I had wanted to be a friend to my children and always be perceived as being nice, I would have very different children today than the ones I have, who learned to buck adversity and plow through challenges.  I would have very different children today than the two young lawyers, who make me proud every day of my life.

Instead, I made the tough calls and told them that my job was not to be liked by them.  My job was to make them into responsible and valuable members of society.  Ask them.  They will tell you.  They will remember telling me that they did not like me because I would not let them do X, Y or Z and hearing me answer, “Good.  Then I am doing my job.”

As a trial lawyer, I had to carry on before judges, who I knew did not accept my presence in the courtroom and probably did not like me.  They surely did not approve of me.  The early 1980’s were a lot different for women lawyers than current times.  Judges called me “little girl” — even a federal judge — and, after a week’s trial, the judge still only referred to me as “she” and “her.”  No place for “counselor” for the women lawyers in his courtroom.

But, that could not matter to me.  I was not in that courtroom to be liked.  I was in that courtroom to make my case.  End of story.

As the chief of staff to an elected official, I had to demand a lot of our staff.  I had to critique them, dismiss their ideas, refuse to listen to their complaints about each other, and return work to them replete with edits in green ink.  (I learned as a teaching fellow in law school never to edit in red because the result looked like a leftover from a bloody war.)

Creating the best possible product, whether it was a letter, a public policy piece, proposed legislation, or a television show, was what my job was all about.  I hoped that the people I managed saw it that way, but if they did not, it could not concern me.  There is plenty for me to look back on and know that I did a fine job, the staff acquired improved skills, the boss got re-elected, and I did not step too far outside the bounds of being a nice person most of the time.

So, I can only imagine that a lot of what the staffs of really powerful women — like Amy Klobuchar and Nancy Pelosi — have to say about them derives from the frustration of being on the other end of agendas that they may not understand.  Agendas to do the best for the most.

Anyway, that is the way I see it.

 

 

 

Career Counselors, Law Firm Managers, Law School Educators, Law Students, Practice Advice, Pre-law, Young Lawyer | Comment

Thought For The Day: Just follow your joy. Always. JONATHON GROFF

Thought For The Day | Comment

Thought For The Day: Joy is not in things; it is in us. RICHARD WAGNER

Thought For The Day | Comment

Thought For The Day: I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship. LOUISA MAY ALCOTT

Thought For The Day | Comment

Women Lawyers Need Men to “Step Up” Like They Did

It was reported in the NY Times and other news outlets recently that male managers are afraid of mentoring women in the #METOO Era.  Maybe you read about it.  Or maybe you were watching the discussion between Stephanie Ruhle of MSNBC and her guests last week about those reports.  I was watching, and it was incredible.  If you did not catch it, check it out here.

Or maybe you were at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January and heard the buzz about it there.  Apparently lots of males from around the world were sharing their fears.

I have empathy for these men.  Really I do.  I know that they are uncertain these days about whether their words and actions will be taken wrong and they will be judged harshly.  Women also know this feeling.  We know just how uncomfortable that kind of uncertainty can be.  We have lived it.

When men say that they don’t want to go to dinner alone with a woman or travel alone with one, some of us can relate to that.  Some of us have been on the other side of it.

As an associate lawyer in the early 1980’s, I was told by a partner that he was taking me off a case because I was “a temptation” to him and he did not want to travel with me.  We were weeks away from a trial in a case that I had devoted a large part of a year’s effort to.  He was uncomfortable, and I was about to get one of the biggest opportunities of my budding career taken from me because of his discomfort.  So, I had to get over my own discomfort in speaking truth to power, as I stared him down and told him there was no problem.  He was not a temptation to me.  And we got on the plane and won the case.

Women have been outnumbered in business for decades and misunderstood.  We have been told that it was our fault for wearing the wrong clothes or looking one way or another.  In other words, we did not look like men.

We have been judged for being too feminine or not feminine enough.  We’ve been overlooked and sidelined.  Our careers have been put on hold.  We just did not fit in.

But, we continued to show up.  We took the risk of continuing to look and dress like nothing was wrong with us and power through.  And now we have accomplished critical mass, and they want to take it away from us again.

Now it is time for the men to power through.  The leadership in professions like law is mostly men, and we need those men to mentor young women lawyers and help turn them into the leaders of the future.  We need the men to be as careful with their behavior as we had to be with ours and to stop punishing women for their own bad choices.  We need them to step up to the responsibility of creating the culture of care that is desperately needed in this profession.

And we need it now.

Hopefully they have the right stuff to deliver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Career Counselors, Law Firm Managers, Law School Educators, Law Students, Practice Advice, Pre-law, Young Lawyer | Comment