For Women in Law By Women in Law

Bet On Yourself

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I love the imagery of “leaning forward” – a catch phrase with so much power behind it. I often use this imagery when I am working out at the gym learning new crossfit circuits but I also use it daily in my work life. The visual of leaning forward reinforces for me that I need to take risks and lean into or commit to a goal. Leadership is all about leaning forward and with the topic of women in leadership getting more and more deserved attention I thought I would highlight an inspiring article by Dr. Margie Warrell. There can be no doubt that women bring a unique set of skills to the table and that is what Dr. Warrell draws on in her article Dear Women, Own Your Difference And Make A Bet On Yourself.

In her article, Dr. Warrell explores how the pandemic holds a unique opportunity for dismantling some of the traditional barriers that have kept women from rising to leadership positions and provides a template to empower women. She suggests that, as women, we can fall forward into our power and lead the change. I agree. She doesn’t suggest that we are better than men but rather that our differences and strengths allow us to perform in a way that compliments leadership. She notes that our strength, in part, is built on the fact that historically we have had to persevere through more adverse events than our male counterparts. These adverse events, in turn, have allowed us to build our strengths to become leaders – to become change agents in our organizations, community and the world.

You know you can be a leader but you don’t know where to start? Not unusual as we all struggle with the first step. Acknowledging this struggle Dr. Warrell offers some guidance. She has five suggestions to encourage women to find their leadership potential.

  1. Don’t wait for confidence – don’t give power to your doubts. Women are generally more self critical and lag behind men in self-confidence. It is safe to acknowledge this but don’t let it grab you. Shake the doubts and know that you are capable of anything.
  2. Dare to see yourself as a leader – we will become leaders when we see ourselves in that role. Imagine yourself in the role where you are committed to making change and standing up for your role at the leadership table. Apologize less and speak compassionately yet assertively.
  3. Dial up your daring – with laser vision see your direction, your future as a leader. The path won’t always be easy given that historically the playing field has been tilted against us but don’t waiver from the goal line. Growth is not always comfortable but dare to move forward.
  4. Lean toward risk – imagine yourself taking that step knowing it is a bit of a leap of faith but also knowing that the leap is driven by your courage and vulnerability. That is success. Understand that with leaning toward risk there is no such thing as failure. Dr. Warell nails this point with her Beyonce quote: “I don’t like to gamble, but if there’s one thing I’m willing to bet on, it’s myself”.
  5. Own the difference your difference makes – the fact is that the best leaders have both feminine and masculine qualities. The best decisions are made when they are developed based on weighing multiple different perspectives. Don’t believe you have to act like a man or even like another woman to be a leader. Be your unique self.


The future of leadership is defined by Dr.Warrell as:

“The General Patton ‘command and control’ style of leadership has given way to a new and more affiliative approach, one that reconstructs power from ‘power over’ to ‘power with’. One built on empowering, collaborating and nurturing a culture of courage that encourages braver leadership in others. This is where women’s ‘communal’ leadership strengths come to the fore.”

We all have the power to forever change our community and our organizations by leaning forward.

About the Author

Kim Jakeman, QC is a partner at Harper Grey and – in case this is your first time here – also the co-founder of Life in Law. Not only is Kim a skilled mediator, she also maintains a busy dual practice focused mainly on litigation in the area of medical malpractice, and regulatory work involving professionals facing disciplinary proceedings before a variety of regulatory bodies. Kim is almost as passionate about biking, her new love of surfing, and working out as she is about supporting women in the legal profession. A master of her own balancing act, when Kim isn’t busy with work, she spends coveted time with her family and friends.


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