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As a partner at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, a prominent international law firm based in New York City, the first female on the executive committee in the firm’s 100 year history, and a member of the firm’s Women’s Initiative Committee, Jenn Ezring is well-equipped to provide the next generation of female leaders with advice for how to excel in their own leadership pursuits. The following is leadership advice Jenn shared in an interview with LiveGirl fellow, Caroline Cioffi.

1. Be the leader of something you love
At a young age, while studying at Princeton University, Jenn was granted a prominent leadership position when she became vice president of the Princeton Triangle Club, the oldest musical theater society in the country. “I did a lot of musical theater in high school, college, and even into law school,” Jenn said. “Helping to run the Triangle Club taught me that, if you love something enough and get into a position where you can help steer it in the right direction, it can be really rewarding.”

Jenn emphasized how important it is for a leader to truly care about the cause that they are leading. “If you’re drawn to leading something, it’s usually because you care so much about it,” Jenn said. “You have to want the group you’re leading to be the best it can be.”

2. Seek out role models
Throughout Jenn’s life, she has had many role models who helped her get to where she is today. “There are many people in my life who mentored me and showed me how to do what I’m doing now,” Jenn said. “I looked at them and their lives and thought: I can see how a piece of this might work in my life.”

In turn, Jenn has served as a mentor to several people both in and outside of her firm. “I have a few official mentees and also several unofficial ones,” Jenn said. “I honestly think that, across the board, most people would be happy to share how they got to where they are with other people who want to get there.”

3. Bring yourself to the position
Though Jenn has taken advice from several mentors, she still makes sure to bring her own self into her position. “I think there’s a balance between finding role models and copying them,” Jenn said. “You have to bring yourself into the conversation.”

Jenn believes that it is important to distinguish herself from others who have previously been in her same position. “I really think it’s important to act like the role you want as opposed to acting like the person who has that role today,” Jenn said. “Don’t be the person, be yourself in their role.”

4. Get comfortable hearing your voice
Research has demonstrated that women and girls are often less willing to share their opinions than men. “Women and girls historically, and even today, don’t speak up as often,” Jenn said. “Research shows that we’ve been trained to hear deeper male voices, but that is changing and it will only keep changing as women get more involved.”

Jenn hopes that women and girls will speak up and continue to encourage this wave of change. “Err on the side of raising that hand,” Jenn said. “There’s nothing to be scared of except not having done it, and that’s a worse result.”

5. Be the best team player
Jenn believes that a leader should be willing to work harder than any of the people who they are leading. “I would find it hard to be in a position of leadership if you haven’t done what they are doing and if you haven’t done it more than them and harder than them,” Jenn said. “A leader should work in a way that shows that: look, this matters to me and therefore I want to inspire someone else to work at it and build it with me.”

Jenn compared this idea to her own leadership role as a partner in the transactions she oversees. “If something goes wrong in a transaction, you can’t be pointing fingers at other people and saying that was his fault or that was her fault,” Jenn said. “It all comes back to the leader. You have to be the one that’s willing to dig in more. I think that’s true of leaders in all different venues.”

6. Leaders create a stronger product when they consider a diverse range of opinions
Having served on her firm's Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Jenn emphasized how important it is for leaders to take a diverse array of opinions into account when making their decisions. “The product that we create is always going to be stronger if we have the input of a lot of different perspectives,” Jenn said. “At the end of the day, it’s a business. You want to put forward the best work product and a more diverse workforce can make that happen.”

7. If you are in the minority, don’t be intimidated
As a female in the historically male-dominated field of law, Jenn has often been in the minority. “I remember one time when I was a first-year associate working on a transaction for a chemical company,” Jenn said. “There must have been 60 people in the room and I was the only woman. I was also clearly the youngest person in the room because I was the most junior lawyer.”

Jenn suggests that, when people find themselves in a minority, they should not be intimidated by it. “People are who they are and you can’t change it. Accept that those are facts,” Jenn said. “You can make people listen just like anyone else can. So it’s just a matter of not being intimidated.”

Jenn also finds it helpful to remind herself that she has every right to be in her position. “I always remind myself that people do want my opinion,” Jenn said. “The people who brought me into that room, or invited me to join them in a leadership role, why would they have done that if they didn’t think I had value to add?”

Since her experience as the only woman in a room of 60 lawyers, Jenn has seen significant change and she hopes that this shift will continue. “I’m happy to say that I’ve never had that happen again,” Jenn said. “I realized that I am not the thing that needs to change. The makeup of the room is what needs to change. And it is changing.”