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Peg July 10, 2009
I have mixed feelings about this Law.Com article titled "Lack of Self Promotion Hurts Women in Large Firms." I think the writer, Patricia Gillette makes some excellent points. I also think that her suggestions for how to change things are terrific (yet shallow on specifics).
But what about this… Yes, Dorothy was a good leader for the reasons that Gillette points out. In fact, selfless service is a key component of the definition of "leadership" within the US Army (the home of many a "leader" in the true-est sense of the word). However, she was a terrible negotiator and businesswoman and not really a very good problem solver. These, I would argue are the traits that are more critical to being a successful leader within law firms. She was more of the "service partner" types, the type of partner that never rises to law firm management even though they are competent lawyers and essential members of the team. I say this because she provided great service to her "clients", the tin man, lion and scarecrow. And yes, perhaps she was even a great leader.
But… law firm managing partner she was not.
I don’t think that women aren’t succeeding because we are the stereotypically weak Dorothies—scared to ask for help, clinging to family, desparate for friends, indecisive, dumb, naive or any of the other things that we associate with Dorothy. One reason, among many, that women are not at the top of our share of law firms is because we are, as Hittle points out, not good at self-promotion. I guess in the end, I agree with Hittle but I just don’t like the Dorothy analogy.
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