Carol Frohlinger: President, Negotiating Women, Inc.

Who are you and what is your role?

I’m the President of Negotiating Women, Inc., an advisory firm committed to helping organizations to advance talented women into leadership positions. Because I am an attorney, I am especially interested in supporting law firms, legal departments as well as individual lawyers to achieve gender equity.

I co-authored “Her Place at the Table: A Woman’s Guide to Negotiating Five Key Challenges to Leadership Success”, a book that focuses on why women must negotiate for things their male colleagues do not and what those things are. Organizations can use it to identify and eliminate (or at least mitigate!) the systemic issues that inadvertently disadvantage women and women can use it to get practical advice about advancing their careers.

From who or what do you draw inspiration as a leader?

I find leadership inspiration from many sources because I believe leadership behaviors are not limited to those in “formal” leadership roles — one can (and should) lead from wherever he/she is.

That said, I greatly admire Gloria Steinem and Daniel Kahneman among well-known leaders.

What do you think are the most important leadership qualities in today’s world?

It will probably come as no surprise given my work, that I think that skill at negotiation skills is the most important leadership quality. We’re negotiating all the time, not only in formal situations but in informal situations as well, e.g., about work allocation, deadlines, resources, roles, recognition as well as other things. To be clear, I’m suggesting that a mutual gains approach to negotiation is the one we need to use, not the more commonly employed distributive bargaining method.

Building strong relationships is at the heart of outstanding negotiation outcomes — when people trust one another enough to share not only their positions (what they say they want) but their interests (why they want it), negotiation magic happens. Strong leaders must ask good questions and then listen carefully to the answers they get to be able to solve problems and leverage opportunities.

Would you care to share your greatest failure – and what you learned?

I’ve been fortunate; I’ve had disappointments but can’t say any great failures. I’ve invested in some ideas that I like to think were ahead of their time; from that, I learned to rely less on gut instinct and more on market research!

What has been you most satisfying success as a leader?

I’ve been gratified to hear from others that my advice has been helpful to them as they manage their careers. I’m particularly proud of the work I’ve done with helping women attorneys to build their business development skills.

What advice would you give to the younger generation contemplating law as a career?

Be proactive in managing your career; don’t expect that your employer will do that for you.

Be observant; take note of the behaviors that successful people in your organization exhibit as well as the behaviors that derail people — and take your cues accordingly!

Do you think the leadership in law is ready for change?

I’m optimistic that is the case; the market dynamics are demanding change and the organizations that adapt to the new realities will be successful.

Is more – or different – leadership required? In what ways?

Yes – both more and different leadership is required. As the business of law evolves, I think there will be an increasing need for law firm leaders with business experience dedicated solely to leading their firms. They will have to focus not only on strategy but on talent management to ensure that the right lawyers are recruited, developed and retained.

How deep do you think will be the inroads of technology in the industry?

I’m of the opinion that technology will continue to redefine the industry, helping clients to contain costs and enabling attorneys to provide more sophisticated advice to their clients. It’s a win-win as I see it.

Do you think professional ethics are challenged by so much change in the legal industry?

No. Regardless of the amount of change in the industry — and the pace of the change, both integrity and doing the right thing stay constant over time.