HOW DO YOU DEFINE LEADERSHIP?
Danielle Anderson: Leadership is the ability to instill confidence and inspire others to be the best version of themselves.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION THAT YOU CAN MAKE AS A LEADER IN YOUR ORGANIZATION?
Danielle: As a leader, I strive to make roles more than “just a job” for my coworkers. We spend more time together than we spend with our families. I make sure I “show up” in so many ways, set an example, build trust, show compassion, and reward hard work.
WHAT IS ONE MISTAKE YOU OFTEN SEE OTHER LEADERS MAKING?
Danielle: A title of authority does not make you a leader—it makes you a boss. Not understanding the difference is a mistake and leads to confusion and disconnect within an organization.
HOW DO YOU ENCOURAGE CREATIVE THINKING WITHIN YOUR ORGANIZATION?
Danielle: Part of being a lawyer is finding creative solutions for your clients. Mentor/mentee relationships are great resources in addition to diversity of opinions. By bringing different perspectives and life experiences to a team, the results are far more creative.
HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
Danielle: Is it terrible to say there is no such thing as perfect balance? Healthy is the key. That said, make choices between life and work that are right for you and your family. Working parents are plagued with the guilt of missing out on family events for fear of shortchanging their work duties. There is no magic bullet, or one size fits all solution. It takes trial and error and knowing what is acceptable for you. But that doesn’t mean you’ll get a second chance at kindergarten graduation!
WHAT RESOURCES WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO SOMEONE WHO IS WORKING TO BECOME A BETTER LEADER?
Danielle: I find that nothing is better than surrounding yourself with other leaders, asking questions, and listening. Listen to the successes, but more than anything, listen to the failures. There is more to be learned in failure than in success.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR 20-YEAR-OLD SELF?
Danielle: I would tell my 20-year-old self to stay the course and trust yourself and your decisions. There will be a lot of sparkly, shiny distractions along the way, but don’t fall for them. You’ve got this!
WHAT’S THE LAST NEW THING YOU LEARNED OR EXPERIENCED?
Danielle: This was my first summer on a lake in Portage, and I made it my mission to learn to waterski. A few bruises and a lot of sore muscles later, a very patient friend who is an experienced boat driver and skier made it happen. It was amazing!
WHICH TEACHER HAD THE MOST SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON YOUR DEVELOPMENT?
Danielle: I would have to say, my fifth-grade teacher. He gave me a major speaking role as the narrator in Hansel and Gretel. To put it mildly, it was an epic failure. I froze when I saw the huge audience and stumbled through the entire thing. It was a tough lesson for a child, but it taught me that I could never be prepared enough! I do a fair amount of public speaking—in court and otherwise—and I will never forget how awful I felt that day. Getting that failure out of the way early was a blessing in disguise.
WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPACTFUL BOOK YOU READ AS A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT?
Danielle: Fahrenheit 451. I am a major book lover, and the idea of destroying books to censor thought and expression is horrific to me. In it, members of society only focus on entertainment, immediate gratification and speeding through life. They do not see the value of reading and thinking. Freedom of expression and exploration of new ideas are cornerstones of our society. Books are a way to unplug and open up to new ideas.