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Ciao, Jury Duty

As you may recall, I was recently tagged to serve on jury duty. Well, after six-plus days out of the office — not entirely, as I came in several evenings and once during a lunch break — it’s over. What a fascinating experience. If you’ve never served before, when your name comes up, take the opportunity — you’ll emerge from the experience with some ideas and insights you can take back to work.

As you may recall, I was recently tagged to serve on jury duty. Well, after six-plus days out of the office — not entirely, as I came in several evenings and once during a lunch break — it’s over. What a fascinating experience. If you’ve never served before, when your name comes up, take the opportunity — you’ll emerge from the experience with some ideas and insights you can take back to work.

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Today I’m mostly in freak-out, catch-up, clean-desk mode, but several things struck me throughout the last six-plus days:

Diverse teams make better decisions.. Even though I’ve lived in Brooklyn for the last year-plus, this was the first truly “Brooklyn” group I’ve been a part of. The jury encompassed a retired math teacher, a former Wall Street worker, a young female attorney, a grocery store employee, a union mechanic, and myself. It was fascinating to see where we connected — and how we could best collaborate.

Leadership requires some drama. Being in the court room wasn’t exactly like all those episodes of Law & Order I’ve watched in reruns, but the more interesting and important — in terms of attention getting — attorneys were the ones with the best stage presence. When you’re leading a meeting or giving a presentation, consider it a role you’re playing and consider what elements of acting can come into play. I’m not talking about adopting a persona, but how you carry yourself, gestures, vocal strength, and so on.

Use the information at hand. One of the most frustrating things about being a juror is that you can’t ask questions or talk to the judge, attorneys, or witnesses. So you have to make your decision based on what’s presented. Even when we were sequestered to deliberate, we wanted to ask questions that hadn’t been asked or explored — but had to dig into the existing testimony as much as possible. Clearly, if you need more information, it’s usually a good idea to seek it out, but don’t fall prey to paralysis by analysis — you’ll never have all the information that exists; just gather enough to make a well-reasoned decision.

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