If you find self reflection uncomfortable, or too touchy-feely, this blog is likely not for you.

One of the lawyers I coach contacted me recently about a program she will be doing on leadership. She asked for my ideas. Here is what I shared with her.

Whether you realize it or not, you are a leader. You do not have to lead a firm or department or office to be a leader. You may even be a first year lawyer, or a law student. You are still a leader, even if it doesn’t feel that way.

Over the years when I practiced law, and more recently working with lawyers, I have written and done presentations on leadership. I have always been a student studying leadership.

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Many leadership experts express that the starting point for you as a leader is “finding your voice.” You have to know yourself before you can lead others.

In their book The Leadership Challenge, 4th Edition, (there is a new 5th edition) James Kouzes and Barry Posner say:

To act with integrity, you must first know who you are. You must know what you stand for, what you believe in. and what you care most about. Clarity of values will give you the confidence to make tough decisions, to act with determination, and to take charge of your life.

That may sound logical, but how can you clarify what you value?

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Before he passed away, Stephen Covey wrote about finding your voice in his book The 8TH Habit: From Effectiveness To Greatness. He posted a blog on how to do it.

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Based on many things I have read, here are my 10 questions for you to answer to find your voice:

  1. Your Law Firm is holding your retirement party. Picture yourself there. The speakers will include a client, a lawyer in town with another firm who has been opposite you in some matters, a young lawyer in your firm, your spouse and one of your children. What would each person say about you?
  2. Imagine you are older and your grandchild asks: “What are you most proud of in your life?” What would you say?
  3. What lawyer do you admire the most and why?
  4. What lawyer is living the life you would most want to live and why?
  5. What lawyer is doing the kind of work you would most like to do and what is that work?
  6. You want people in your firm, or clients to believe you are the “go to person” to_________________.
  7. What is the work you enjoy most as a lawyer? Why?
  8. What client(s) do you enjoy the most and why?
  9. Imagine it is five years from now. Describe your day.
  10. Over the next five years, what do you want to do? What do you want to become? What do you want to earn? What do you want to learn?