Leaders make a significant impact on their team’s motivation and resilience. As the legal profession continues to discuss what the future of work will look like, paying attention to how leaders lead during the transition and beyond will be critical. Yet, formal leadership training and conversations aren’t always prioritized in the profession. I want this to change, and I believe the profession has ignored a critical resource to help make leadership conversations stick: its lawyers with military service.
I first started working with military personnel ten years ago after completing my master’s degree in applied positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. After my studies, I joined the UPenn/United States Army’s Comprehensive Solider and Family Fitness Program to teach and train resilience and performance skills to drill sergeants, other non-commissioned officers, officers, Department of the Army civilians, and their families.
Fortunately, I was part of this team for more than three years, and during the entire length of the program the UPenn team (a mix of graduates from the applied positive psychology program at UPenn, sports psychologists, soldiers we promoted to the training team and other mental health professionals) trained more than 40,000 military personnel in these skills. Given the senior rank of most of the soldiers we worked with, we had many conversations about the application of these skills to leadership.
I was completely unprepared for the ways I would change by teaching this work and the profound lessons about leadership (and life) the drill sergeants and soldiers would teach me. Since that time, I have continued to work with many military legal teams and have been looking for avenues to give voice to their stories and leverage their leadership expertise.
The Well-Being Week in Law After Party is a week dedicated to the leadership and organizational aspects of well-being, and it’s the perfect opportunity to launch this special article series. I had the privilege of interviewing four very accomplished lawyers about their military service and the leadership lessons they learned and continue to apply to their law practices today. I will be publishing one new story each day during the After Party week.
Maj. Lauren Shure: Current Deputy Division Chief, Special Victims’ Counsel Division at Joint Base Andrews
Nicholas Griepsma: Former Army Captain and Armor Officer
Elizabeth Hall: Former Navy Lieutenant and F/18 Weapons System Officer
William Curtin: Former Army Captain and JAG Corps Officer
I want to extend a very special thank you to Covington & Burling, and its Veterans Affinity Group for co-sponsoring this series with my Institute. And to Bill, Lauren, Nick, and Liz: I want to personally extend a heartfelt thank you to each of you for taking the time to share your stories with me. I learned so much from each of you and walked away from our conversations with a better understanding of what it means to lead. I was also completely humbled by your authenticity. Most of all, thank you for your service. A simple thank you feels completely inadequate to repay you for putting your lives on the line so that my family and I can enjoy the freedoms and privileges of this great country, but thank you.
It is my hope that law firms and legal organizations leverage the lessons these and other military lawyers have to share about leadership and recognize that their military service is a tremendous resource and asset to help advance the leadership conversation in law.
Please click here to order my new book, Beating Burnout at Work: Why Teams Hold the Secret to Well-Being and Resilience.
Here are the following articles in this series: Leadership Lessons from an Air Force JAG, Leadership Lessons From A Former Armor & Cavalry Officer, Leadership Lessons From A Former F/A-18 Weapons System Officer, and Leadership Lessons From A Former JAG Officer