If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you. – Zig Ziegler
A number of things can cause one to land in a law firm leadership position; such as success in building a legal practice, ability to build consensus and advance initiatives or even political acumen. But two factors are essential if one is to seize the role and provide enduring leadership: trust and respect.
Neither is an automatic byproduct of the position.
Trust is earned when you do what you say you are going to do – when deeds match rhetoric, and align with the values of your organization. At a practical level, this means a few things must be accomplished.
- A leader must be prepared to put a stake in the ground, defining goals, timetables and specific actions
- These goals and action steps must be communicated (and re-communicated) to the firm
- The leader must maintain focus, and follow through on promised action, and then be certain the organization is aware of critical benchmarks and accomplishments
- Trust is earned by embracing responsibility when things go wrong and graciously distributing credit when they go well
To conduct ones self in a manner consistent with firm values presumes a crystal clear understanding of said values, and the commitment to conduct business in a manner consistent with these cultural cornerstones.
Gaining respect is an incremental process. It requires consistency as well as a measure of success in moving the organization forward. Practically speaking, this means:
- Establishing realistic as well as measurable objectives that are consistent with the aspirations of the firm
- Ensuring firm values are adhered to no matter the influence of the person in question
- Treating everyone with an equal level of dignity and respect no matter their role or performance
- Walking the talk, being the example for others
How do you see leaders earning trust and respect?