Winter 2019 Gavel Gavel Winter 2019 - Page 10

Women Lawyers Section Leadership Retreat By Julia L. Ernst On November 9-11, 2018, SBAND’s Women Lawyers Section (WLS) hosted a leadership retreat at the Coteau des Prairies Lodge, located about 90 minutes southwest of Fargo. Twenty-nine WLS members participated and represented numerous legal fields. Nationally-recognized legal leadership experts Kathy Story, from Memphis, Tenn., and Alanna Moravetz, from St. Paul, Minn., served as facilitators. They led sessions enabling WLS members to explore and further develop their unique and personal leadership skills in an interactive and supportive setting. The program not only provided meaningful leadership workshops, but also fostered invaluable networking exchanges among the participants and presenters. During the weeks leading up to the retreat, participants completed a brief questionnaire for the facilitators indicating their practice areas and years of experience, why they were interested in the retreat, and how participation may impact their careers, employers, communities, and other aspects of their lives. The participants also read two short articles, Centered Leadership: How Talented Women Thrive1 and Discovering Your Authentic Leadership,2 completed the free, online VIA Survey of Character Strengths,3 and brought the survey results to the retreat. Finally, Moravetz and Story called each of the participants to learn more about them and their goals for the weekend. The following is a brief recap of the weekend and some of the lessons learned during the retreat.4 ground rules for the retreat, which provide helpful guidelines leaders can use in many settings: • Be fully present. • Listen for understanding. • Use “yes, and” statements instead of “yes, but” statements. • Own your own learning. • Take care of yourself. • Keep technology out of sight. • Respect double confidentiality. • Step up and step back. On Saturday, we examined the top five traits each of us had discerned before the retreat by taking the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. The facilitators affixed large sheets of flipchart paper across the front of the room, each labeled with two of the traits. Using sticky notes, we flagged our top five strengths under the appropriate labels. This exercise enabled us to discuss how the various character strengths might intersect with different styles of leadership in both positive and potentially negative ways. The researchers who developed the survey encourage everyone to play to their strengths;5 in other words, people should reframe their work to utilize fully their signature strengths and should enable their colleagues to do so, as well. Throughout Friday evening, participants arrived at the Coteau des Prairies Lodge. After dinner, we gathered around tables configured in a large square, and the facilitators instructed us to pair with someone we did not yet know, think of a professional success where we were “at our best,” and share it with our partner. Pulling us back together as a group, the facilitators asked us to introduce ourselves, stating our name, practice area, and one word describing the trait that fostered our success. The multitude of different characteristics emerging from the introductions demonstrated that no specific set of characteristics defines leadership; instead, leadership arises from each individual’s own authentic self – a concept reinforced in the articles we had read prior to the retreat. The workshop portion of Friday evening ended with an agreement upon important 10 THE GAVEL The participants of the WLS Leadership Retreat. After a break, we dove into an examination of our individual ways of learning and how the four archetypal learning styles impact our leadership strengths and weaknesses, using the Kolb Learning Style Inventory6 assessment and workbook. We broke into groups based on our learning styles and created a poster reflecting the strengths and weaknesses of each of our groups’ styles. Each group shared its poster, so we could all understand each other better and how to work more effectively with people who have different learning preferences. For the next segment, the facilitators informed us about the “Cycle of Renewal”7 for managing change and building resilience. Most individuals undergo cycles of change throughout their lives. Successful people learn how to manage those changes, including difficulties and setbacks, in positive and