Law firm leaders are tasked with the challenge of setting the direction of the entire organization. To be worthy of a leadership role, an individual must be respected and influential. They must be effective revenue generators with a long list of distinguished legal accomplishments. They must be able to attract and retain customers, and manage a large book of business. Right?
Not so much.
Respect and influence, the ability to generate revenue, praise-worthy accomplishments…sure, these are all impressive qualities. But which of them would enable a leader to engage and retain employees, propel organizational productivity, and drive customer satisfaction across the board? Which of these qualities will help them develop an effective marketing strategy, or make decisions about the firm’s long-term performance trajectory? None of them.
The problem, when law firm leaders run their organizations on respect, influence and authority alone, is that they never actually step up and lead. They make decisions in a vacuum, failing to keep what’s best for the firm in mind. Too often, leaders play rainmaker and bend over backwards to maintain client relationships…a great strategy for short-term sustainability. But when it comes to long-term sustainability, leaders need to develop their firms and their teams, making sure that employees are engaged, empowered, and properly trained. If leaders aren’t staying focused on these tasks, the firm is in serious trouble.
Likewise, if leaders aren’t focused on the right goals, the firm is bound to suffer. Performance metrics are great goals for attorneys. However, leaders must keep a keen eye on team and organizational goals, as well as on building relationships with team members and clients alike. On collaborating, and leveraging a diverse set of skills to solve problems and improve firm performance.
It’s time we say goodbye to the leadership ideal of respect, influence and authority, and start ushering in a new era of leaders who possess the following 7 leadership skills:
1. Has a firm handle on the firm’s long-term strategy and goals, and the ability to communicate that vision to team members in a way that excites and motivates them to perform
2. The ability to develop team members in a way that is aligned not only with the firm’s needs, but also with the individual’s career goals
3. Gets the job done and achieves positive results, against all odds
4. Collaborates rather than competes, and handles conflict quietly
5. Builds a professional network inside and outside of the firm
6. Is a social chameleon; can get along with a diverse group of team members, clients, and stakeholders
7. The adaptability to change demeanor as needed, based on the demands of whatever situation is arising
The challenge with these leadership skills is that they aren’t part of any law school’s curriculum. A leader must take it upon themselves to learn these skills, which means that, in addition to the 7 skills listed above, effective law firm leaders also need to have a learning mindset. But learning mindsets and egos oftentimes conflict, and convincing leaders to spend time perfecting skills that don’t directly generate revenue isn’t easy.
Leadership development programs designed specifically for law firms—like our Team Empowerment Academy—can be highly effective training and development tools, teaching leaders how to lead more effectively, and teaching team members the skills they need to support their leaders in a meaningful (and measurable) way. Our program generates real results in just 8 weeks, and it does that by taking into consideration the nuances of each leader or team member’s personality, determining their strengths and weaknesses, and figuring out how they can best work together for the benefit of the firm as a whole.
If you’re interested in empowering your team with the leadership skills you ACTUALLY NEED—not the leadership skills you THINK you need—email [email protected] or contact us using the form below to request a free 30-minute Discovery Session with our founder, Molly Hall.