Diversity in Leadership Forum’s 5 Steps to Creating the Future You Want

Diversity in Leadership Forum Future

It is crazy to think the year 2020 is just around the corner.  Where did the time go?  Just thinking about an all-time classic movie series, Back to the Future, the future supposedly took place in 2015 with flying cars and no roads.

While we are not quite living in the age of Mad Men, it is not exactly the future we may have imagined, particularly when it comes to equality.  While we are in a significant culture shift, we have a long way to go.  This year at the Diversity in Leadership Forum (formerly the Women Leaders Forum), a leadership development program for diverse Local Legal Authorities, the retreat convened in Chicago for its annual 360-degree look at the industry; it’s mission, to support the professional advancement of diverse leaders in law.  During the two-day program, we challenged old ideas and stereotypes and discussed perspectives, strategies and tactics that would support a transformative culture shift as well as personal advancement and success.


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Here are this year’s five “C” strategies we focused on at the Diversity in Leadership Forum:

Change your mindset.

For many women, the fear behind negotiation limits their asking rate or income.  If you change your mindset to one that believes that your “contribution is priceless regardless of rates, compensation, or perceived position.”  Yes priceless. Read that again. David Ackert, President of Ackert, Inc. talked about negotiation strategies and how one’s own fear gets in the way. Imposter syndrome gets in the way. Instead, follow Amy Cuddy’s rule, fake it and you will become it. Own your power and claim your worth, play big and play to win.

Collaborate and cross-market. 

When working in a silo, products and services lack creativity. Law firms often function singularly when companies hire just lawyers. But to be an insensible resource, you need a team to best serve your clients. Collaboration breeds success. It not only benefits the client, but also builds a stronger, more robust firm culture that exponentially motivates repeat behavior and deepens relationships.  Joining forces, pooling resources, working as a team fosters trust and supports a strong, robust culture which ultimately serves everyone.


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Champion other contributions and contributors.

In addition to originations and hourly rates, recognize other contributions to the firm and to clients.  Those contributions may not have an immediate ROI, but they will support the bottom line and the culture of the firm.  Those active in the leadership committees such as Associates Committee, D&I committee, Alumni committee are all supporting their colleagues and clients.  Beyond billables, those contributions are priceless. 

Combine your strategic plan with your core values. 

Incorporate inclusion in your business plan.  Don’t just list diversity as one of your core values and have a separate committee with separate initiatives.  While a D&I program is great, inclusion efforts need to be integrated into strategic business plans – in personal plans, practice plans,  firm plans, succession plans, client teams/service plans  – ALL of them.

Communicate loudly, and continuously. 

From little to big, highlight efforts and successes.  Announce goals to hold yourself or your team accountable and trumpet the results, even the small wins.  DLF Presenter, Deborah Farone, President of Farone Advisors LLC, says “Celebrating successes reinforces behavior.” Use communication as a tool to nurture the most positive actions.  Diverse teams drive innovation and success.  It is like watering or feeding a plant, the most attention you give it, the better it will grow and healthier it will be.

Fully embracing these concepts will cultivate a strong future — a future that begins now and supports the generations to come.


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