Throughout my 20-year career, I have recognized the importance of encouraging the open and honest exchange of ideas from people at all levels of the workplace. The ideal work team brings a variety of perspectives to the table. Encouraging diversity of thought enables people to engage constructively in achieving the goals of the organization and leads to the best decisions for the business.
The years that I spent as a partner in a law firm gave me exposure to the importance of working collaboratively within a team that held diverse perspectives. As I moved from firm practice to general counsel in major corporations, I experienced first-hand the value of surrounding myself with people who are better and brighter than I am, and letting them do their jobs. Leaders cannot possibly know or become directly involved in all of the issues and must rely on their team.
The need to recognize my associates’ varying skills and capabilities has been a constant in my career. People add value to their organizations in different ways, and the key to a successful legal department is to draw upon everyone’s strengths. It is often tempting to use a standard measurement in evaluating the workforce; but with that approach, it would be easy to overlook individuals who add a unique set of skills or expertise to the team. Rewarding different contributions encourages diversity of thinking, which benefits the company in the end.
Organizations are learning to respect individual perspectives regardless of gender and, in turn, are creating advancement opportunities for top talent. Companies are becoming more willing to accommodate the conflicts that many women face in balancing the demands of work and family. One bit of advice I offer all women, and follow myself, is to make time to take care of personal priorities and recharge your batteries—not only for your own health and well-being but to remain productive and make the best contributions to your professions. It is often easier said than done, but it is truly important to spend quality time with family and friends and to do things that you enjoy completely away from the work environment.