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    Wisconsin Lawyer
    September 09, 2019

    Final Thought
    Self-discovery: What Do Others See In You?

    Participating in the State Bar's G. Lane Ware Leadership Academy helped me realize that what I see as weaknesses in myself, people around me see as strengths and leadership qualities.

    Cynthia Herber

    About two years ago, Unilever began a campaign, using its Dove brand, to raise girls’ self-esteem and personal awareness. Part of that campaign included television commercials that showed a room divided by a curtain. On one side was a female participant sitting on a chair. On the other side was an artist standing in front of an easel holding a blank canvas. The participant was asked to describe herself and as she did, the artist painted what was heard.

    Cynthia HerberCynthia Herber, Univ. of Pennsylvania 1993, operates CRH Legal LLC in Milwaukee.

    At the end, the producers pulled the curtain open and allowed the participant to see what the artist had painted based on the participant’s self-description. Every participant was shocked at the disparities between how they saw themselves and what others saw.

    In April I was fortunate to “graduate” from the State Bar of Wisconsin’s G. Lane Ware Leadership Academy. I originally heard about this program through an email from the State Bar and then was encouraged to apply by a friend and colleague who had participated the year before.

    My friend told me that I should try the academy because he saw me as an influencer. I have never seen myself that way and certainly did not believe I fit the description of a leader. But, just as with the participants in the Dove marketing campaign, the way I see myself and the way others perceive me are dramatically different.

    Please don’t get me wrong. I am not here to gloat on my many attributes as a leader or toot my own horn. Not even close. I still think there are many things I can do better and many skills I have yet to master. However, by participating in the academy, I learned there are things in me that others see – and that I never considered – that are attributes every leader should have.

    I have worked for people who have shown me the way and then stood at my side as I walked the road on my own for the first time to make sure I did not fall by the wayside. But other people have limited my creativity and stymied my initiative to do things differently, by putting me down and taking credit for my work.

    During the academy, I learned that a leader is not a person who demands respect but instead one who commands it. A leader must be compassionate and show compassion. A leader must be empathetic and understanding. A leader is someone who is able to lead by example, as clichéd as that sounds. A leader is someone who empowers others to do better and become better versions of themselves. A leader does not tell people what to do but gets input on what should be done and validates other people’s efforts to do what needs to be done.

    And in this journey of self-discovery, I realized that what I see as weaknesses in myself, people around me see as strengths and leadership qualities. Most importantly, the academy gave the answer to that perpetual question one gets asked during a job interview: What made you want to be an attorney? My journey as a lawyer is about empowerment. My goal when I practice law is to not only solve my client’s problems but to empower them to learn how to avoid problems in the future.

    According to a well-known proverb, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” That is the simplest way to describe leadership. Empowerment.

    Meet Our Contributors

    What do you do for fun?

    Cynthia HerberRecently, while answering one of those personality questionnaires, I came across this question: What do you do in your personal/spare time? Ugh. I sat and thought about it, and I came to the realization that I am one of those people who does a little bit of everything, without taking on any specific hobby. I’ve often said that I have a case of adult ADHD, and thinking about this question made me confirm it. A little here, and a little there. A student of everything, and expert in nothing. I say this tongue in cheek; it’s not that bad.

    In all seriousness, I am interested in a wide range of very different things. I can, however, say that the one thing that I always enjoy and jump at the opportunity of doing is going to see a live band play Americana or country music. I am what you can call a "country girl wannabe." Denim skirt and cowboy boots are my thing, and a handsome guy with a cowboy hat and an acoustic guitar always gets my attention.

    Cynthia Herber, CRH Legal LLC, Milwaukee.

    Become a contributor! Are you working on an interesting case? Have a practice tip to share? There are several ways to contribute to Wisconsin Lawyer. To discuss a topic idea, contact Managing Editor Karlé Lester at (800) 444-9404, ext. 6127, or email Check out our writing and submission guidelines.

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