August 14, 2020 Article

Effective Women Leaders Can Teach Us about Managing Extreme Adversity

Perspectives from a law firm founder and a rising 3L on the qualities needed to persevere and thrive in challenging times.

By Nicole D. Galli and Kelley Bregenzer

The two authors of this article have very different life experiences. Nicole has been practicing law for almost 30 years, owns her own firm, and is married with two teenagers. Kelley is a rising 3L law student just starting out in the profession, pursuing a second career in law after nearly a decade spent working in public relations. But both of us were both struck by a report earlier this spring that observed that countries with women leaders had been faring better during the pandemic than others. The report spawned conversation, with some highlighting characteristics traditionally associated with femininity—pragmatism, empathy, altruism—as potential difference-makers. Others cautioned against relying solely on stereotypes to explain the phenomenon and examined the more-inclusive political systems of these countries. The reasons that women leaders have outperformed their male counterpoints in handling this crisis are no doubt varied and complex. But it made us think: What really sets women leaders apart? 

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