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What does leadership mean to you?

What does leadership mean to you?

Think about a time when a leader really stood out for you. It could have been on a sports team, a teacher, public figure, manager, friend, or mentor. Do you remember why they stood out? Do you remember why you respected them so much?

Take a minute to write down the qualities that you admire or admired. Then write down how they made you feel. Did they inspire you do to better or your best? Did they teach your something valuable? Did they instill a feeling in you that you had potential and could achieve anything you wanted if you put your mind to it? Did they make you feel part  of the team? Did you feel they listened to you?

If you are in a leadership position, any position, take a look at your notes and then follow that approach with the people you are leading. And watch how they respond to you. You will be well on your way to taking your team, project, group or firm to an entirely new level.

How do you show confidence?

How do you show confidence?

You don’t show confidence by going on about yourself. That actually shows the opposite. The following tips are as relevant in a job interview as they are when networking, meeting with clients, or speaking at events.

Four key tips:

  1. Be brief and succinct
  2. Use only affirmative language
  3. Don’t be afraid to pause
  4. Smile

While these four tips may seem simple, and they are by the way, they go a long way in demonstrating confidence. You can use this little menu and modify it to use in your writing as well.

  1. Be brief and succinct: Don’t ramble on and on. If you do ramble, you will almost always repeat yourself. Get to the point. Use short sentences rather than a whole bunch of punctuation. Rambling on is a sign of nervousness, not confidence.
  2. Use only affirmative language: Instead of “I feel…”, or “I believe…”, use ” I know…”, or “I’m confident…” This is very subtle but you might be surprised how it changes the tone of your communication.
  3. Don’t be afraid to pause: Do you feel the need to fill silence? Why not let the other person or audience for that matter have the chance to absorb what you just said. Silence is powerful!
  4. Smile: Pretty self-explanatory. Again, while subtle, it will go a long way.

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Find new opportunities

If you haven’t done this already, go out and see all of your key clients. Find out what they are worried about, what their current or immediate challenges are, and what they foresee as future challenges. What is going on in their day-to-day operations? Be genuinely interested in THEM. Here’s how it turned out for one of our clients:  While on a call with a firm client, a junior lawyer learned of a pressing need. He communicated that need to his managing partner who immediately got on the phone with the client. Ten minutes later, at the client’s request, the managing partner met the client at this office and a few minutes after that, he secured a large mandate to help the client solve the problem the junior lawyer had learned about earlier that day. It can be THAT SIMPLE.

 Get a pulse on what your clients are doing, what they need and how can you help them. To do that, you have to get out there and talk to them. The opportunity here is to create a value-based relationship. The impact of your social relationship with a client is important but will only get you so far, watch what happens when you create a value-based relationship. Business development isn’t always about getting new clients. There are opportunities with current clients. Go find them!

Becoming a Better Leader

As you seek to grow your firm it will be advantageous for you to become the best possible leader you can be to inspire, motivate and lead your team. I read somewhere that great leaders don’t create followers. Great leaders create more great leaders. That is a great approach to take, to empower your people to become better, to take on more responsibilities and leadership roles within the firm. This is also a great way to support your succession plan (which I talk about later in this chapter). Some tips on becoming a better leader. In most cases, it boils down to having great communication skills.

  • Treat each member of your team individually.
  • Have regular one-to-one time with each team member and get to know what truly motivates them and what they want to achieve in their career.
  • Provide regular feedback on their work. Tell them what they are doing right or great and why, and tell them how and where they can improve.
  • Set up clear expectations from the beginning so there are no miss-understandings later.
  • Ask for their feedback on client and firm matters-this is a great way of empowering them. They have a ton of ideas that could benefit your clients and the firm-just ask them.
  • Always remain approachable and willing to listen.
  • Share your vision for your firm and engage your team to be a part of that vision. Most people and especially this younger generation like the team approach. Take advantage of that and leverage it.
  • Create systems and processes to make it easier for your people to do their jobs. And if you don’t know where to start-ask your people how you can make their jobs easier.
  • Share your knowledge and mentor your people. Share what you have learned about time management, client management, file management, email management and help your people become as efficient as you’ve become.
  • Lead by example. If you are asking your people to do something that you don’t or won’t do yourself, you can’t really expect them to do it either

Set up realistic expectations

Work with your clients from the very beginning and set up realistic expectations. Never promise anything you can’t deliver. It’s better so say no, then to say yes and not get it done. Walk them through the variables and educate them on the process as much as possible. They will really appreciate it. Remember, you’ve done this a million times. This could be their first time going through the process. Depending on the nature of the file or the work you are doing for them, they could be going through a very tough time. Don’t underestimate the discomfort they may feel, the level of uncertainty. This isn’t about your ‘lawyer’ skills. This is about your ‘people’ skills and level of service which will go a long way in separating you from your competition and providing more potential referrals.

Get more referrals

The easiest way to get more referrals is from your clients. The fastest way to do this is to ensure they are completely happy with your service. In my opinion, that starts with effective communication. One of the top complaints lawyers get from clients is that they don’t communicate often enough and make assumptions. Communication is at the heart of your service to your clients. So get agreement from the very beginning on how often and by which method your clients would like you to communicate with them. And also explain, the more that communication is required, this will add to the cost of your services.

The next thing I recommend, is to give your clients permission to give you feedback throughout your dealings with them. Your clients might be intimidated by you and not want to point something out when it’s relatively small. And you want to know if something isn’t quite to their liking so you can fix it in that moment before it grows and festers to the point where they don’t want to pay their bill. Often when mistakes are made, it’s not the mistake that people remember. it’s how quickly and effectively the mistake is corrected or reversed.