Strong leadership – the key to a strong law firm – will attract, engage, and retain top talent. Leadership, however, is not defined by owning the corner office. Leadership happens at every level – even among fledgling attorneys in their first post-graduate position. Leadership is an art – it takes responsibility for and command of every assigned task, and then influences the rest of the team to follow suit. Leadership creates footsteps for others to walk in, of course, but it also teaches others to leave a fresh set of footprints.
Natural or Learned?
Yes, some people are born leaders – they have an innate ability to persuade and influence others; they have a keen perception of what’s beneath the surface and a knack for drawing it out. But the reality remains, that leadership is a skill that can be learned. In fact, even a natural born leader will soon fall behind if he/she isn’t consistently learning.
10 Tips for Learning to be a More Effective Leader
- Be a man or woman of integrity. Be honest and transparent in all your dealings. Keep your word. Own up to your mistakes and be quick to apologize. If you caused an issue, do all you can to correct the situation.
- Learn to listen. Give 100% attention to the person who’s sharing. If you’re in a meeting – whether it’s a whole team or one-on-one for lunch, silence all devices, block out your surroundings and focus, not only on what people are saying but also on what they are not
- Communicate with clarity. Take personal responsibility to ensure that everyone on the team has all the facts – the same facts. Be clear and specific. Ask people to share what they heard.
- Treat others with respect and appreciation. Put value on people with your words and your actions.
- This isn’t just about lightening your workload. It’s about recognizing talent in others and encouraging them to grow by giving them a vote of confidence. Of course, this includes matching responsibility with the necessary authority and then stepping back and letting them run.
- Set clear and measurable goals. Having a vision that inspires is essential, but it’s not enough. Create an action plan that maps out the journey and the timeline.
- Work alongside your team – they will trust you more if you spend time in the trenches.
- Designate time for the people you lead – whether it’s a small temporary team, a department, or an entire firm. Of course, the amount of time per/person varies according to the number of people you lead, but make a point to connect personally as much as possible.
- Take time for yourself. If you burn out, your leadership will quickly lose its
- Never stop learning. From social media forums to online white papers to learning conferences, to reading, to taking classes – keep abreast of new topics, as well as learning from past leaders.