A law firm in crisis is in a different world—a world in which leadership must learn to adapt. It is a place that requires thinking differently, acting decisively, and making choices count. In battling crisis mistakes inevitably happen, but successful crisis leaders keep the number and magnitude small. A law firm leader flexes brain muscles not recently used or never known to exist.
Leading in crisis fundamentally requires two things. First, a capable crisis leader immediately determines the roots of the problem. Not uncommonly, the crux of the problem is not limited to one issue. Multiple setbacks may have occurred, whether all at once or sequentially, to upend business as usual. A good crisis leader is not fooled by tangential oddities, irrelevant anomalies or fixated on global causes. Rather, a good crisis leader eliminates the noise and focuses on the fundamental business problem(s) that turn the firm’s practice on its head.
Second, once the problem is diagnosed, the next step is finding a solution. By understanding the challenge, a leader can identify a fix. A misdiagnosed culprit can lead to an ineffectual remedy and compound the crisis. Turning to others in the law firm’s orbit when crafting a strategy can help. Feedback, perspectives and ideas from colleagues can avert leader tunnel vision, contribute to a holistic solution and widen recovery strategy buy-in.
Identifying the problem and creating a plan to solve it are high priority duties for a law firm leader facing crisis. Bypassing these two critical steps can doom a law firm confronting crisis.
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