Perhaps you can relate?

Due to the high-conflict nature of the legal profession, the field seems to attract certain dysfunctional personalities and, as a direct consequence, certain oppressive leadership styles.  Hogan and Hogan (2001) assert that dysfunctional managers make life miserable for those who work with them, and there is nothing subordinates can do to defend themselves.  Working as a litigation attorney required that I survive a daily deluge of personal attacks, verbal knife fights, and impossible workloads.  “Threat, power, position, and money do not earn commitment; they earn compliance.  And compliance produces adequacy, not greatness” (Kouzes & Pozner, 2003, p. 32).

A servant-leader, on the other hand, focuses on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong.  This concept is in sharp contrast to the traditional leadership model of most law firms, which involves the accumulation and exercise of power by those at the top.  Perceptions impact a leader’s ability to influence a follower; influence is the essence of leadership.

In my position now as a litigation attorney in a different law firm, I use influence strategies daily.   While the perception of attorneys as manipulators is notably accurate, others of us strive to reconnect with our intended purpose as advocates and public servants.

The most gifted litigators, however, are not manipulative; they are highly attuned to their own feelings and that of others, and because of that they are able to integrate emotions and reason in order to achieve desired outcomes of their clients.

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We can help people trust us by the candor with which we talk about our behavior.

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