I credit my ability to stay engaged in legal technology over the course of my 35 year career due to advances in technology starting when IBM’s first personal computer was released to being involved in all aspects of the field since then. All this while working for the law firm of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With fourteen offices and over 700 users to support, I enjoy the challenges while being highly engrossed in legal technology my entire career.
One word describes my approach: Passion. Passion about the legal technology field, my firm, the people I support and especially ILTA. For me, passion comes naturally when you enjoy doing what you are doing. I am lucky to be surrounded by passionate people through my careers at both my firm and my volunteer roles at ILTA. It is that passion that drives you to keep digging deep by giving and in turn become a servant leader.
A servant leader leads by serving others which is different from traditional leadership where the main focus is leading a group. They place the needs and interests of their followers and organization over their own self-interest and needs. There are many characteristics of a servant leader including empathy, listening, awareness, conceptualization, persuasive, stewardship and foresight. All these traits are needed to be a true servant leader. One cannot be accomplished without including the others. This is where the passion comes in. It is what drives these traits to work together and come alive.
“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.” - Robert K. Greenleaf
Let others see you serve and encourage them to join you. Make sure they know that you care. Truly invest in people to build their trust and earn the respect of others. Do not place restrictions on your willingness to serve. Recognize and understand feelings and emotions that are experienced by those you serve. Put yourself in that person’s shoes. Focus on what you can give to help others accomplish their goals.
Having the passion to be a servant leader is what has driven me to be a long time volunteer with the ILTA organization since 2001. I drank the ILTA Kool-Aid as long-time volunteer and retired ILTA staff member Judy Couvillion used to say. Where else would I have the opportunity to grow and learn from so many other servant leaders while helping others to grow and learn. Starting as a Volunteer City Representative (VCR) then Regional Vice President (RVP), grew into true servant leadership roles by helping to create the first Buddy Program at the 2016 ILTACON conference that pairs long time conference attendees with newbies to provide mentorship, Law Firm 101 Chair which created fundamental eLearning to guide and support those who are new to employment at law firms to my current roles on the Program Planning Council (PPC) providing legal technology programming to educate others and Volunteer Leadership Task Force (VLTF) where I am honored to help structure and align the organization’s volunteer leadership roles so others can gain the same benefits I have achieved by being a servant leader. Being a servant leader is the same as volunteering--sounds like hard work but it is really easy when you start with passion because in return you receive back far more satisfaction than you can ever give. Try it! Trust me, it is contagious.