Peer to Peer Magazine

September 2011

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Becoming an Effective Values- Based Leader by Steven D. Wingert, CLM, Executive Director at Marshall Gerstein & Borun, LLP L aw firm managers and administrators are increasingly required to be leaders. In fact, the opportunity to take on a leadership role is theirs for the taking. It begins with the willingness to step forward with ideas and recommendations to support the strategic direction of your firm or organization, and, in some cases, to challenge others' approaches or ideas. However, when we step up to be leaders, we should first make an effort to understand how our personal strengths and values mesh with our firm or organizational values, and determine how we can take steps to actively encourage and promote values-based processes and initiatives. While this may come naturally for some, for others this process is a part of professional development. In addition to the willingness to step forward, there are three traits essential to being an effective values-based leader: • Understanding your personal strengths and motivational style, along with the strengths and style of your team • Ensuring consistency between your firm or organizational values and your team's work • Determination to actively work on positioning yourself as a values-based leader. Knowing Your Personal Strengths Self-reflection can be an eye-opener and an effective tool for achieving results. Many of us have gone through assessments to identify our working styles or strengths, such as the Meyers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Caliper Profile, the Hogan Development Survey (HDS) and the Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI). These tools are helpful in identifying the set of characteristics or traits that drive us to operate like we do. We have often heard some of these traits characterized as being people-oriented, task-oriented or some combination 54 www.iltanet.org Peer to Peer of descriptors. Depending on the assessment tool, the terminology or model may vary, but many of the same characteristic descriptors appear. Examples include: • Ambitious • Analytical • Caring • Cautious • Creative • Flexible • Honest • Loyal • Principled • Quick to act • Resilient • Strategic SDI Applied at Marshall Gerstein & Borun, LLP Our firm recently had the opportunity to work with the Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI). This assessment examined what our personal strengths were when things were going well, and how we operated when faced with conflict. We administered this assessment with our staff and paralegals and conducted a series of workshops. These sessions focused on individual personal strengths and motivational styles, our typical characteristics when in conflict, and how to borrow from other styles when in need or when the situation dictates. Our goal in this effort was to build a better understanding of our personal styles and how these impact our working relationships. We extended the information gathered at the individual level to discussions of communications and relationships within our respective administrative teams. We learned how to use this information to understand ourselves and others better when in conflict, how to more effectively resolve issues and facilitate results and, ultimately, how to build stronger and more effective working relationships within our teams. While my example provides a 30,000-foot overview of our work, it has already become clear that this investment to identify and understand the personal motivation and conflict styles, and how this plays out in teams, has resulted

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