United States: Developing The Leader In You

Published in the American Bar Association's Woman Advocate

We encounter women leaders every day. From a managing partner at a law firm to a bar association president to a committee chair, more women are assuming leadership roles than ever before. But what does it take to be a leader? What are the skills?

A leader influences and inspires others to achieve a common goal. An effective leader develops buy-in from those around her and motivates others to perform at their very best. Cultivating their trust and support is key. Think about whom you admire and have backed as a leader and who has influenced you to flourish. You already have an idea of what traits are effective. You also have seen and witnessed what does not work.

A lawyer who aspires to be a leader can develop leadership skills and qualities starting at any stage in her professional career. It is never too late to begin, so take the opportunity to build leadership competencies now. Here are some tips to get started.

Get Involved

To be a leader, you must take the first step and get involved. You cannot be a leader unless you have something to lead. Women can lead in their workplaces, their bar associations, and their communities. Consider where you want to start. Women leaders today initiated their leadership development from different starting points.

Someone may tap you on the shoulder and encourage you to participate. When that happens, accept that direction. But do not wait for someone to ask you to join. Take the initiative and join an association, committee, or community group. When you choose what to become involved in, find something you love doing—and do it. Consider where you want to spend your additional time. Remember, when you are pursuing your passions and are excited about something, you cannot help but motivate others.

You also need to discover what is right for you at any particular point of your life. Are there times during the day that will not work for meetings because of drop off or pick up of children, the care of a family member, or an obligation you cannot change? If meeting times cannot be adjusted or you cannot remove the obligation, find something that does work with your schedule. Do not invite disappointment by not showing up or constantly cancelling. Your availability will vary throughout your career. Identifying what works for you now already shows your sound leadership decisions.

Do First-Class Work

Once you are involved in an organization or group, you must be committed to doing excellent work. If you are going to be involved, do it right. Make a commitment to getting the job done and done well. Attend the meetings, volunteer to take on projects, and follow through on responsibilities delegated to you. A competent, hard-working, and committed person gains the approval and trust of colleagues. People follow those they respect.

Volunteer to chair an event or help on a subcommittee. Saying "I will take that on" lets others know you are committed and can get things done. Start with your strengths and volunteer for those opportunities. If you are good with numbers or have strong communication skills, think about fundraising opportunities. If you view the world "big picture," consider a strategic planning initiative. If you enjoy pulling people together for a common purpose, volunteer to coordinate an event or program.

Importantly, carrying through as promised builds others' confidence in you. In no time at all, people will start to look to you for direction. Dedication, hard work, and being someone people can depend on to get the job done make the difference.

Find a Mentor or Sponsor

There have been many articles written on mentors and sponsors. Whomever you choose, find someone who can help motivate and guide you in building your leadership ability. You want to find someone who supports and champions your success. Use her as a confidante or sounding board, to identify those organizations you should join in order to foster and showcase your leadership ability. Your mentor can offer you her experience and the methods, skills, or work habits that she has found successful over her career. You can also gain valuable insight about skills such as running a meeting, managing delegation, and networking.

You may admire several leaders throughout your professional career. Consider which traits each person has that make you hold her in high regard. Model the successful behaviors of someone who has achieved a high leadership role. She may never even know you are taking her lead as you create your own path to leadership.

Be Yourself

Only when you are true to who you are do you come across as confident and trustworthy—a leader. While you may be guided by and learn from a sponsor or mentor, you do not want to merely imitate someone else's leadership style. Find your strong points and develop your unique leadership strengths. Hone the skills that work for you. History shows that leaders have differing styles, and that no one style is synonymous with being a good or an effective leader. Being yourself gives you a self-assurance that attracts people.

Commit to Listening

Leaders listen. While a leader inspires others to follow a charted course, accepting input from others can help guide the direction you travel. There is never only one way to do things. A diversity of viewpoints allows a broader range of ideas to enhance an organization. While listening does not come naturally and can be hard to do, it is essential to effective leadership. Everyone wants to be heard. When others feel that you have really listened to them, you gain their trust and respect.

Create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing their ideas. Know that everyone is watching your reaction. If people feel that you are not open to listening, they will not share their views, observations, or assessments. So when others do speak up, thank them for sharing and contributing to the discussion. If you are unsure how to process a suggestion at the time, rather than suffocate and immediately dismiss the person's comments, say something like, "That's an interesting new idea," or "We haven't looked at it from that angle before." Recognizing the contributions of others may lead to a stronger plan of action. It also makes people feel that they are all part of the success.

Set Goals and Follow Through

Know your objectives and have a plan to achieve them. Without a vision, you have no direction. Write down the goals you want to achieve and then take action every day toward realizing them. Monitor your performance along the way to see how you are doing. Whatever happens, do not give up. Hard work pays off in the end.

Give Back

Once you have achieved a leadership role, reach out and recruit another woman. Pay it forward by helping another woman develop as a leader. We are stronger together.

So, what are you waiting for? Plan your success as a leader today. Take on a leadership role that is right for you and develop your leadership style and skills. Remember, it is never too late to start.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Emails

From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.