We recommend to you an articlecoming out in the Spring 2021 issue of the Journal of the Legal Profession. Professor Doris Brogan, the Harold Reuschlein Leadership Chair at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, addresses the question of why we should prepare law students for positions of influence and impact as leaders in society. The question was raised by her colleagues during a discussion about curricular objectives and goals. After immediately answering that we should, Prof. Brogan asked herself, “Why did it seem so right to prepare all our students with leadership skills if not all of them would end up in the that necessarily exclusive group we designate leader?” The article is the result of her research and reflection. She recognized that “good leadership education will make our students better lawyers, whether they become leaders or not.” She then addressed the myth that leadership cannot be taught. She proclaimed, “Of course, it can. Indeed it must be taught.”
The article is a delightful read with discussions of leaders who rose to positions of great influence, such as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson. She included stories about companies who lacked moral leadership at critical times, such as Volkswagen and Wells Fargo. I especially appreciated her introduction to Dr. Mary Gentile’s work on Giving Voice to Values (GVV) which she recommends be adapted to law school curricula to provide “an effective platform to structure values-based leadership education.” Using GVV can prepare students to “step up and speak out in the face of actions or decisions that challenge their values,” which is a form of “informal leadership, or leadership without specific authority.”
I also appreciate her tribute to Deborah Rhode’s body of work in the areas of professional responsibility, women’s leadership and finally our movement to encourage leadership development in legal education. See footnote 2 of the article.
In the article, Professor Brogan suggests several imperatives:
Law schools must prepare students for formal and informal leadership;
Leadership education must focus hard on values education, and engage students in difficult, concrete discussion exploring personal, institutional, and universal values;
Leadership education must prepare students to speak up for their values and in service of doing the right thing courageously, and effectively, and to do so strategically, without unnecessarily putting their careers at risk); and
Those in positions of power—those in a position to act— must be prepared to listen and to hear. Few students will find themselves in influential leadership positions straight out of law school; rather, they will evolve as leaders, developing a constellation of skills and approaches and honing leadership aptitudes in an ongoing process of learning “throughout a professional trajectory . . . .”
Professor Brogan opines that “law school offers a safe place to wrestle with these issues—a place where the risks are low and where the student can try out different responses with no concern about real-world consequences. In short, law school offers a venue to help students develop a strong values-based foundation, the incentive to act in defense of values, and skills required to do so.”
Few leaders have made decisions as momentous or widely varied as Dwight D. Eisenhower. Through his decades of service to America—first, as an accomplished general who led the Allied army to victory during World War II and later, as the 34th President of the United States during the Cold War—Dwight D. Eisenhower personified the qualities of successful leadership.
Baylor Law recently hosted an interview with President Eisenhower’s granddaughter, Susan Eisenhower, a distinguished Washington D.C. policy strategist, security expert, and author. In her book, How Ike Led, Susan Eisenhower details the qualities that made her grandfather the great leader he is remembered for being today. Author and attorney Talmage Boston, who interviewed Susan Eisenhower for the online event, described How Ike Led as a “textbook on leadership.”
How Ike Led may not be the only leadership “textbook” authored by an Eisenhower, however. In 1965, President Eisenhower authored an essay on leadership that was published in the Reader’s Digest. In that essay, President Eisenhower described the “handful of known qualities which I am convinced are the essence of leadership[,]” based on his observations of other renowned leaders, such as Sir Winston Churchill and Gen. George C. Marshall. According to Eisenhower, the essential leadership qualities include: Selfless Dedication, Courage and Conviction, Fortitude, Humility, Thorough Homework, and the Power of Persuasion.
Based on Susan Eisenhower’s discussion of her grandfather, it is clear President Eisenhower possessed many of these key traits. More than fifty years after President Eisenhower’s death, these qualities continue to remain relevant in today’s societal and political climate.
The first—and “perhaps the greatest”—quality Eisenhower described was selfless dedication. In his essay, Eisenhower wrote: “Any leader worth his salt must of course possess a certain amount of ego, a justifiable pride in his own accomplishments. But if he is a truly great leader, the cause must predominate over self.” In How Ike Led, Susan Eisenhower addresses this concept, writing that President Eisenhower knew when to suppress and when to deploy his ego. By this, she means that Eisenhower possessed a talent for knowing which fights to pursue and which fights to let go. Eisenhower innately recognized that insisting on winning every fight, no matter how large or small, alienated people. Instead, Eisenhower’s primary goal in both war and peace was to “foster unity” and “find a middle way.” In Susan Eisenhower’s words, it matters less “who does the right thing” and matters more that “the right thing gets done.” Eisenhower exemplified this belief by shirking partisanship and remaining open to working with both members of his party and those across the political aisle.
Eisenhower also described the importance of humility in a leader. In his essay on leadership, Eisenhower wrote: “My own conviction is that every leader should have enough humility to accept, publicly, the responsibility for the mistakes of the subordinates he has himself selected and, likewise, to give them credit, publicly, for their triumphs.” Eisenhower, again, serves as an exemplar of this quality. For any failure, Eisenhower claimed the responsibility rather than casting blame on his subordinates. Moreover, he instilled this value on his family as well. Susan Eisenhower recalled that the correct response to any failure or shortcoming was to accept responsibility and say: “No excuses, sir.”
A third quality of leadership described and exemplified by Eisenhower is fortitude. Eisenhower described this “vital ingredient of leadership” as “fortitude of spirit – the capacity to stand strong under reverses, to rise from defeat and do battle again, to learn from one’s mistakes and push on to the ultimate goal.” In line with this concept, Susan Eisenhower evoked one of her grandfather’s favorite expressions: “Don’t rewind the tape.” By this expression, Eisenhower meant that a leader should avoid replaying and second-guessing their past decisions. Rather, a leader should remain forward-facing and focused on the future.
Throughout the interview, the picture of President Eisenhower that emerged was one of nuance and complexity, highlighted by juxtaposed qualities and anecdotes. Despite being known for his considerable military accomplishments, President Eisenhower strove for peace rather than war during his two presidential terms. Relatedly, President Eisenhower used the United States’ military strength to negotiate a truce to end the Korean War and reduce tensions during the Cold War.
At the beginning of the interview, Talmage Boston noted how Susan Eisenhower’s brother, David, described President Eisenhower as both “beloved and forbidding.” Susan Eisenhower’s answers to interview questions, including her personal stories and anecdotes of President Eisenhower, revealed the truth of that duality.
Most historians are familiar with “the formidable Ike.” According to Susan Eisenhower, President Eisenhower possessed an “enormous physical presence” and a notorious temper, though he exercised great discipline in controlling it. After witnessing firsthand the liberation of a concentration camp during World War II, Eisenhower insisted that Germans from a nearby town visited the camp to see what had been done in their name, and he later required that villagers give the Holocaust victims proper burials. Eisenhower believed in accountability, but he also recognized that accountability must be followed by the opportunity for redemption. With President Eisenhower’s support, West Germany became a member of NATO in 1955, ten years after the end of World War II.
As this anecdote illustrates, President Eisenhower possessed an equally-important sensitive side in addition to his “forbidding” presence and reputation. Susan Eisenhower described her grandfather as a person with “extraordinary sensitivity” and a “big heart and tough head.” He was a “very passionate, emotional person” who was tasked with making difficult decisions in the absence of emotion.
As Eisenhower himself once wrote, “we don’t know all there is to know about leadership.” That said, Eisenhower’s legacy and nuanced approach to leadership serve as an enduring example of the marks of a true leader. As succinctly stated in the book’s description, “Susan Eisenhower’s How Ike Led shows us not just what a great American did, but why―and what we can learn from him today.”
Join Baylor Law in welcoming Susan Eisenhower, political consultant, historian, think-tank leader, author, and granddaughter of Dwight David Eisenhower as she shares her insight on the principles behind the biggest decisions of one of America’s greatest leaders of the 20th century.
Interviewed by renowned attorney and author Talmage Boston, Susan Eisenhower will share her insight on how Ike led.
As I write this, our nation waits anxiously for who will win
the presidential election. I use the word ‘win’ advisedly, as it seems
difficult to conceive of a result that will be accepted with grace and
unification by those on the ‘losing’ side. Bitter disputes make for more
difficult times after resolution, and this is as true in a legal setting such
as a trial as in this electoral cycle. The participation trophy does not apply;
these are binary situations in which there is a winner and a loser. The challenge
for leadership, then, lies in how to proceed in such a deeply divisive and
potentially disappointing time.
For the winner, leadership requires modeling grace and
conciliation. While victory feels good, the real challenge is moving forward in
a way that recognizes the struggle and humanity of your opponent. We learned
the lesson of punitive victory following World War I with the Treaty of
Versailles. WWI’s victors felt the need to exact retribution from the Germans,
placing a crushing burden on the country both financially and emotionally. This
was an understandable desire given the unbelievable toll of the war, but the
consequence was another more horrific war. We will never know how world events
would have unfolded with a more conciliatory plan to move forward; we know with
irrefutable evidence the damage that a cruel victory exacted.
Lawyer are experienced in situations where there are winners
and losers. Whether in trial or
negotiating a deal, there likely will be a winner, and the party on the losing
side may reel at the impact of that decision. Sometimes the impact is
financial; sometimes it is emotional; oftentimes it involves both. Lawyers can
play a vital role in helping colleagues, friends, families, and communities find
a graceful way to move forward and bring healing to what is a difficult situation
for both sides.
What of the losing party: how do you deal with difficult news
you did not want to hear? How as a lawyer do you advise a client or bolster the
morale of a team? This requires true courage and thoughtfulness. First, you
have to help the team and client accept the outcome, especially if it
represents the true end of the road. In many ways, accepting a known outcome,
albeit difficult, is easier than one which remains uncertain. Second, debrief
and learn the lessons of the loss. This may mean examining processes or
leadership decisions; it may simply require an understanding that lawyers are not
in the outcome control business. Either way, help your team learn, accept, and
move on. Finally, have a plan for going forward. More senior lawyers can help
younger lawyers, and law students, learn how to bounce back and developing resilience
as a team strength happens most effectively following a loss. Success is not
about how high you bounce, it is about how high you bounce back after hitting
bottom. A team that cannot bounce back is fundamentally flawed; leading your
team back to confidence is vital.
Our country will need to internalize these leadership lessons
in the coming months. No one will ‘win’ this election if we do not learn that
we must come together for the country, not for an individual or ideology. Our
leaders, whoever they may be, will win only if they reunite the country rather
than divide them more deeply. The current course is not sustainable; we must
move forward with the help of strong and compassionate leadership.
I kicked off our first #ThankfulThursday on April 2 by expressing gratitude for the many blessings in my life, from my personal family to my professional family â that which we call the Baylor Law family. Then a few nights later, during a restless interval in the middle of the night, I sent all our students an email. Knowing that we ask much of our students even during normal times, I wanted to share with them a sense of togetherness and an understanding of our common concerns during this unprecedented time. Here is the message I sent them:
‘On Thursday, I shared what I am thankful for. Now for what keeps me up at night…
Am I doing enough? Am I enough?
I battle with these feelings often, but I share what is on my mind tonight.
Am I enough?
To my 83 year-old mother who has Alzheimer’s and other underlying health conditions and doesn’t understand why I can’t give her a hug. She spent her life devoted to caring for others. Whoever needed her most that day – my dad, my three siblings and I, then our kids, and, all the while, other family, friends and neighbors when we were not in need. She would lay down her life for any of us … or you, and yet now she doesn’t understand why I can’t come in and stay when I drop off food or groceries. Why none of us can. The loneliness of that disease is torturous in the best of times.
To my young grandkids who must think I have abandoned them during this time of COVID-19 quarantine. My four-year-old grandson says âMimi, when you aren’t sick anymore, you can hold me. He doesn’t understand I am not the one who is sick – at least I don’t think so. His brother, the six-year old, just wants to know when he can come over and spend the night again … the way they used to. And I am sure the grandkids in East Texas don’t understand why they didn’t get the box of Fruity Pebbles in the Amazon shipment received when we asked what we could send them. Unlike many of the other popular cereals, it was available, but at $12.95 a box? Really? Seriously! There ought to be a law, wait, there is!
To other family and friends, who are also struggling with isolation, illness, insecurities and uncertainties. How can I be there for them? I want to! If only I could. Virtual formats can’t replace sitting with someone as they cry while you hold them.
To our students who need someone to ease your anxiety, to reassure you and to help with your burdens. I wish I could be there to do something, to tell you how much we believe in you! That you are a child of God and therefore loved.
In times of uncertainty about my abilities and questioning my insecurities, I often look to others for inspiration. Here are some I found tonight on a website:
‘Helen Keller: Lost her sight and hearing due to a mysterious fever when she was only 18 months old. She overcame her deafness and blindness to become a strong, educated woman who spoke about, and promoted, women’s rights.
Winston Churchill: Overcame a stuttering problem and poor performance in school to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and one of the most influential political leaders of the twentieth century. He was also known for his powerful and rousing speeches.
Wilma Rudolph: The Olympian born prematurely, the 20th of 22 children. She overcame double pneumonia, scarlet fever and polio to become winner of three Gold medals in track at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games
. . .
J.K. Rowling:. Born to a poor family; left a bad marriage with a young baby to live on government assistance; wrote her first Harry Potter book and was turned down by most publishers until Bloomsbury Publishing picked it up. Need I say more?
Determination, resilience, and persistence enabled all of these great people to push past their adversities and prevail. If they could do it, surely the rest of us can summon the strength and courage to do overcome our adversities!
I know this period has been a challenge for all and for some an extremely difficult period. While we know it is temporary, that does not ease the burdens you carry now. Please know that we are here for you to help as we can. It may not offer sufficient solace now, but my many years of experience allows me to assure you that someday this difficult time you are experiencing now will allow you to better serve a client, assist a friend, comfort a loved one or help a community. And we know that as Baylor Lawyers you will do all those and more.
An inscription on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abbey:
âWhen I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.
As I grew older and wiser I discovered the world would not change â So I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, but it too seemed immovable.
As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.
And now I realize as I lie on my deathbed, if I had only changed myself first, then by example I might have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement I would then have been able to better my country,
And who knows, I might have even changed the world.â
Before you can lead an organization or community â¦ before
you can impact the world â¦ you must first âleadâ yourself. For us, the most important aspect of any
leadership development program is to start with a focus on âgrowingâ yourself. Easier
said than done! But why? Could it be
that we are too eager to skip ahead to leaving our mark on the world? We can be
so focused on doing the âimportantâ and wanting to be remembered for what we accomplish
that we forget leadership â like any other subject in law school â begins at
the beginning. There is no substitute for the elemental work that feeds our growth
layer by layer, branch by branch.
In our leadership development course, we spend about half our time guiding the students on a journey of self-discovery. Since we begin every orientation at Baylor Law with emphasis on the role of lawyers in society (as guardians of our democracy, trusted advisors to their clients and leaders in their communities), we do not start from ground zero in our leadership development class. We begin with a deeper discussion of our obligations to society and the important opportunities they will have to be influencers with integrity. After setting expectations for their future, we introduce them to leadership characteristics, traits, and styles, as well as various scenarios where their leadership will be needed. Starting with these concepts, terms and contexts â the language of leadership development â sets the foundation.
The core of our leadership class is devoted to helping
students come to âknowâ themselves â their preferences, strengths, and areas of
challenge. We know this is essential to prepare them for future situations that
will require them to act and to make decision, or to offer guidance to those
who will. We guide our students through
a series of discussions, self-assessments and self-reflective exercises
designed to help them be better prepared, even practiced, for those future
actions and opportunities. Just as with other areas, we know that students are
more likely to handle a difficult or stressful situation, even a crisis, with
competence and integrity if they have seen or at least thought about the scenario,
or a similar one, at some time before. That is the wisdom and judgment gained
through practice and experience.
We also spend some time in our course on what it means to âleadâ others (including working well with others, recognizing the influence lawyers can have on others, and successfully building an inclusive team). We end with an attempt to inspire students to consider the impact they want to have on the world and then to be thoughtful, strategic and adaptive as they plan their next steps. Â
Leadership development is a life-long journey to be better at helping others be more and accomplish more. As lawyers, our legal education and training, and our sense of honor and purpose as guardians of our democracy, make us ideally suited to impact those around us â¦ and, yes, maybe even change the worldâ¦ if we recognize early enough that it all begins with us.
âGive me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.â – Abraham Lincoln
In case you missed it: âThe legal
profession doesnât have a leadership problemâit has a character problemâ, by
Charles Edwards. Mr. Edwards post in the ABA Journal is wonderful write-up on
the importance of character in leadership. As Leah and I frequently discuss
with law students, leadership alone is not enough â ethical leadership
is the key to long-term success. By integrating best practices into leadership
courses, we are preparing our students for their future roles.
starters, we must recognize that as lawyers, as professionals, we are expected
to be leaders in society. âA lawyer is a
representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen
having special responsibility for the quality of justice.â
We have an obligation to serve not only our clients but also society. Our legal
training and professional status afford us daily opportunities to influence
individuals, organizations and communities.
many ways, legal training is implicitly leadership development training. Faculty
are teaching and modeling leadership in the classroom and beyond; however, we are
not teaching leadership intentionally. We must help our students understand
that their professional obligation is to serve their clients and their communities. Their
professional opportunities will enable them to lead and to be change-makers. If
we see ourselves as problem solvers and trusted advisors instead of deal
killers and hired guns, maybe the public will see us that way too.
can start developing lawyer-leaders intentionally by reframing the way we think
about leadership development training. Law faculties are equipped to
participate. Because they are lawyers, they have served in a variety of leadership
roles, including as professors in the classroom. Leadership goes on every day,
in every classroom. Faculty can more intentionally model leadership and help students
see themselves as leaders. Students, from observing our interactions and actions,
learn how to address colleagues and classmates, how to treating others with
respect, and what it means to be a professional. But faculty can also encourage
one of the most fundamental aspects of leadership â intellectual curiosity â as
a way of life. Law professors can equip students with knowledge, skills and
strategies that will help them be successful in dealing with, and leading,
people and organizations.
majority of law school applicants provide personal statements that express
their desire to go to law school because they want to make a difference, to
advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves, or to make our
communities better. Donât we owe it to them to equip them with more than just
the ability to critically analyze an issue? Donât we want to make sure we set
them up for success, not only in the practice of law but also in the many other
arenas in which they will serve?
 The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Preamble:
A Lawyer’s Responsibilities,
Leadership development programs are part
of the standard operating procedures for business schools but not so for law
schools, at least historically. At a Group Discussion during the January 2017
AALS Annual Meeting, we met with about 50 faculty members from all over the
country and we asked them to share thoughts about challenges and roadblocks to
creating leadership development programs and courses. Here are some points from
What is leadership development anyway? How do we explain it to our skeptical colleagues?
Some lawyers and law students resist instruction in âsoft skills.â The very use of the term when describing leadership development adds to the problem. For many lawyers the soft stuff is the hard stuff.
Many still think leaders are born not trained. You either have it or you donât, they would say.
Doctrinal law faculty (especially those who have not been in formal leadership roles) feel uncomfortable with the subject and certainly do not feel equipped to teach it.
Current law students think they have already done leadership development â¦ in high school and in college. âWhat could possibly be added in a law school leadership class?â, they might wonder. Some faculty and administrators probably share these thoughts.
For those that believe in the benefit of leadership development programming, how can we scale up the programming to insure all students are exposed to leadership development in a meaningful way?
are some of the challenges we face. If you have encountered others, please
share. As we continue this blog, we will address these issues and offer
suggestions for overcoming.
Baylor Law School held its winter commencement on Saturday, February 2nd, 2019. The graduating class selected Professor Jeremy Counseller to address the graduates as the commencement speaker. Over the years, Professor Counseller has been selected on many an occasion as a favorite speaker. On this day, he tied two important topics together during his speech: civility and leadership. You can view his speech below, or at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZC495AXXtA. It is only nineteen-minutes and well worth it!
Professor Counseller is always entertaining. This occasion he was particularly inspiring, earning him a standing ovation. His message began with laughter as he announced to the audience that his intent was not to impart wisdom as is expected of graduation speakers. âDonât you think that I should have shared it with you by now,â he quipped. Instead he offered a request â really a challenge of sorts. His request was for the graduates and all those of their generation to address to two important issues: lack of civility and lack of strong leadership to solve the problems that older generations left unanswered. Issues such as the national debt, climate change, and politics. âAs lawyers, you will play an outsized role in bearing that responsibility,â he added.
He noted that civility means more than formal pleasantries.
He emphasized the need for the next generation to be âgood citizens, especially
in the way we conduct our public and political discourse.â He observed that the
graduatesâ generation will be forced to make the tough choices to solve hard problems
that previous generations could not. He blamed the lack of progress on âan
erosion of civility and the quality of our public and political discourse.â
Your generation has what it takes to improve civility in this country and solve the big problems.â
Professor Jeremy Counseller
Professor Counseller denounced negative descriptions of the
graduatesâ generation. Instead, he offered his endorsement. âI do think you do
have the courage to walk the hard paths.â His advice in dealing with the
criticism of their generation: âI hope the criticism of you puts a chip on your
shoulderâ¦ Your generation has what it takes to improve civility in this country
and solve the big problems.â
He ended by expressing his faith in our Baylor Law graduates.
âBaylor Law School doesnât give diplomas to snowflakes,â he noted. âSo, I want
you toâ¦ show us how it is done. Become the leaders we all need you to be.â