The fact is, no single factor has a greater impact on the success or failure of a business than the quality of its leadership. During a period of increasing change in the legal services industry a well-defined means of developing effective leadership is a must.
First, let’s debunk a myth – effective leaders are born, they are not made. Much has been suggested about “natural born leaders” and there is no substance to the suggestion. This should be good news to members of law firms. With enough focus, desire, dedication and effort, effective leaders are developed.
There are three primary steps to creating effective law firm leaders.
- Identify interested lawyers. Firms should routinely engage its members, (including junior associates) in activities that will provide insights as to who has interest in leadership.
- Develop the capability. Once identified, find opportunities to develop their leadership experience and knowledge. Opportunities include:
- Assign leadership positions,
- Provide leadership assignments,
- Connect the leader to be with a mentor (inside or out of the firm) and
- Direct them to educational programs intended to develop knowledge and build a network of other emerging leaders.
- Obtain feedback. All effective leaders are consciously or unconsciously committed to learning. They strive to become better. Nothing provides a stronger learning experience than lessons learned on the job. A formal system of routine feedback, from all applicable personnel, provides the opportunity for that learning.
Maintaining an appropriately sized group of emerging leaders is critical to law firm success. Prudent firms proactively develop that leadership capability.
What is your firm doing to prepare tomorrow’s leaders?