On Thursday, February 5, 2015, the New York City Bar Association's Women Lawyers Book Club hosted a session named after the book written by Gindi Eckel Vincent and Mary Bailey Cranston entitled, "Learning to Lead: What Really Works for Women in Law".
The event moderator Valerie Fitch, Senior Director of Talent Development at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, discussed some of the principles, career strategies and tips for success gleaned from the women legal leaders who were interviewed for the book.
Valerie's brief, yet enlightening, synopsis of the book was followed by an interactive small groups discussion. Each of the five small group facilitators, including Jodi Balsam, Associate Professor of Clinical Law and Director of Civil Externship Programs at Brooklyn Law School and chair of the day's program, was asked to help attendees to map out strategies that could be used to develop leadership skills and scope out opportunities to demonstrate leadership within and outside their organizations.
Some of the leadership challenges that were identified included obstacles associated with being an effective leader with limited resources; overcoming perceptions about ability and desire to lead that are based on marital status and parental responsibilities; leading during or after a personal or professional crisis.
The session was very informative. Not only did attendees get to identify and discuss their personal challenges, but they also benefited from receiving feedback from their peers about potential action steps and solutions for improving their effectiveness as leaders. For example, one participant suggested that a frustrated leader working with limited resources may need to develop a reliable list of external service providers to help with alleviating time and work load pressures at key periods. Another attendee encouraged a working mother to continue to express her interest in assuming more leadership roles in her office despite the perception that she would be unable to perform well as a result of her familial commitments.
In closing out the session, the moderator Valerie Fitch left participants with a few items to ponder in developing their leadership styles and values:
1. Are leadership styles different for men and women
2. Do women lead men differently than they lead other women?
3. Think about a time that you led well. What was particularly notable about this experience?
4. What is the worst thing that you could do as a leader? How can you recover from this?
Learning to Lead: What Really Works for Women in Law is available for purchase on amazon.com.