CLA Alumni on Teamwork & LeadershipOn November 16, 2019 by Raul Dinwiddie
The skills I’ve learned around leadership and teamwork have really come into play in helping me get positions on cases and really progress throughout my career. Within all my roles that I have participated in, I had to work at in a team. No matter how big or how small. It might be a two-person team. It might be a 25-person team. But we have to work together in order to get the outcomes achieved. I compare it to rolling a boulder uphill. You’re pushing and pushing and pushing. The hardest step is to get that boulder moving. And then, one other person joins you because they share your vision. And then, you get two people, and three people, and finally the boulders moving. It’s still really hard. And then eventually gets to the top of the hill and then it starts moving on its own. You know, we work with so many different departments here at Polaris. You work with different teams, You work on different projects where you really have to be agile and be able to go from one personality to the other. Communicating with the team in a large range of different personalities. A large diverse range of personalities. And understanding what each of the people on the team are trying to achieve and helping them align the right kinds of opportunities to achieve those goals. This is what that person, their skill set is. This is who they are. Getting to know them. Getting to know what they’re offering. And then, adding, “this is what I have to bring to the table.” It’s not about what you want from them. It’s about what you can give to them. So think in that mindset. Go in there with that attitude. It’s a giving. Good leadership skills involves a lot of listening. If you’re not malleable, if you’re so rigidly stuck onto one thing and don’t take the time to adjust to the circumstances or explain to someone how something might work better and taking the input you’re going to fall off the rails. The important thing to being a leader is that you don’t… It’s not a position of authority. It’s just somebody who can delegate or maybe provide guidance or help to the other members in the group, or somebody who’s been through the project before. As a leader it’s important for us to identify these are the goals, these are expectations and these are the necessary steps in order for us to move there. So if I’m the leader, or if I’m leading a particular group or a particular project. For one, I have to set the expectations. I have to set the rules. And then there’s also the difficult personalities. So I believe you can work with any personality. And I probably almost, almost overplayed this belief at times, you know where you have to figure out a way to separate yourself from somebody who’s an acidic component to the team. And it is, again, a matter of understanding that the goal is around finishing the project. It’s not about being right. It’s not about fighting with that person to prove a point and that is the tempting thing, is even if someone doesn’t share your vision is actually trying to actively stop you from that vision. The more time you spend fighting with that person. the less time you’re spending focused on what it is that you really need to do. Law firms look for people who can work well with others. Most projects, when you’re an attorney, involve multiple people, usually a partner, an associate, and a paralegal. If you can’t work well with others, then your project won’t end well, or it might not even get done. Group projects in college are the worst. That’s where you can really step up though in your leadership role. When other people in your group that you didn’t pick that are just assigned don’t pick up their slack, or they aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do. That really forces you to take up that leadership role. Being able to work together to help design a solution at the University really helped me meet these goals at Microsoft. I think it makes great business sense to always approach it with teamwork in mind. And it also just makes the day or the week, however longer you’re there, just more enjoyable. I think that’s why I’m able to work well with people, is because I have teamwork and leadership skills.