Law firm leadership is often talked about and has been for some time. Yet we still find very little progress on this front. If you’ve read my column before you will note a very practical, common sense and simple approach that I take with my clients. Keep it simple, because simple works.
When you set your people “free” you will be utterly amazed to find out what they are capable of achieving, hence the title. If you restrain them or try to keep complete control, they will not be as invested or motivated to contribute on a higher level. Engage them, empower them and inspire them to be a part of your plans — whatever those plans might be.
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Are you leading a team, practice group or your firm? Try this. Get everyone focused on one thing-your clients. Make it the mission of your team or group ‘client 1st always’. When you get everyone focused on the same goal or outcome, then collaboration, cooperation and workflow will improve. Retention, growth and profitability will follow.
You see this approach strips away a lot of the egos and self-centered mentality. Like a sports team whose only goal is to win, you create a common thread-something everyone can and should be a part of.
Make it about this. “How can I help you help me help the client?”
This one is short. If you’d like to know more. Call me. 604.669.5235
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.
Why is it so many professionals have a tough time delegating?
When done properly, delegating allows you to take your business to the next level. There is only one of you. Whether you are out on your own or working in a firm, you can only grow so much before you reach your capacity. The trouble is most people wait too long before they start to think about delegating, then it becomes even more stressful as they don’t have the time to properly get their team up to speed.
I see this all the time where the lawyer gets to a point where it seems more efficient to do the work yourself rather than teach a junior how to do it. It becomes a vicious cycle that you can never break out of.
Try this! When you are at about 60% of your capacity, start looking for help. That way, by the time you find the right person, or people, you will still have time to teach them, groom them, ensure they are following your strict adherence to client service.
The other thing that will help you remain in control is to ensure you have the systems and processes in place to replicate your approaches. Then it’s simply a matter of finding the right people and teaching them, providing regular feedback, and perhaps most importantly making sure your people know they can come to you for help at any time.
Here is a link to a recently published article I wrote on succession planning. It’s aimed at law firm and professional service firm management. However, it wouldn’t hurt to pass it along to some of your senior partners.
Here is the link
#successionplanning #lawfirmbusiness #retirement
Going beyond business development and your ability to generate work, there are a couple of considerations you should think about if you’re looking to get on or speed up the ‘Partner Track’. The first consideration is to learn how to play well with others. Here I am referring to everyone with whom you come into contact on a daily basis; your assistant, paralegals, IT professionals, receptionists, firm management, marketing, library services, etc. Go out of your way to treat these people with the utmost respect and watch how in turn they will over perform and deliver for you. You will not become successful in your career without their support. So when they go out of their way for you, acknowledge their efforts. Take them out to lunch from time to time. Ask them how they would like to contribute. Find out how you can help them achieve their career goals by first understanding what they are. Treat them as you do your clients. In other words get to know them as much as possible.
Giving back to the firm
By this I am referring to what can you do outside your practice to provide value to your firm. Consider answering these questions as a place to start:
- What committees can you be on and contribute to?
- Are their opportunities for you to mentor a summer or articling student, or even an associate more junior then you?
- What can you do outside the walls of your firm in the community to better position your firm?
Follow this advice and you are more likely to become a partner at your firm.