A lot of effort goes into running a law firm and reaching a level of accomplishment can be a difficult task. Not only do leaders have to focus on the actual practice of law, they must also manage the administrative duties of keeping the business moving in the right direction.
A successful law practice requires successful leadership… and successful leadership entails a variety of necessary traits. In this post, we’ll discuss eight of the leadership skills you need to navigate your law firm towards excellence.
The definition of integrity is demonstrating a consistent and uncompromising commitment to strong ethical and moral principles. It is the honesty and truthfulness of one’s daily actions – even when no one is watching.
Some experts classify integrity as the most necessary skill for effective leadership. That’s because it’s a trait that others value. People will not follow a leader that they cannot trust. Particularly within the legal profession, where the public is constantly critiquing the integrity of the profession as a whole, having a leader who consistently demonstrates integrity can go along way, both within a firm and in the eyes of the public.
If potential clients see firm leaders as having integrity, they are likely to view the entire firm through those same eyes. They become more likely to return as repeat clients and also refer other clients.
Good communication skills
Good communication skills are extremely important for successful law firm leadership. Leaders take part in so many relationships inside and outside of the firm. They must have the skills to effectively communicate with a variety of different people on various levels. Otherwise, how can you ask people to follow a vision that you aren’t even able to communicate? Effective leaders must be able to adequately express ideas and necessary information to the people they seek to lead.
A big part of good communication is authenticity. People prefer communication that is sincere, not bogged down in legalese. A good communicator knows how to talk with people on their level. They must also know how to listen in order to foster trust and respect. A law firm leader who cannot listen to others is lacking as a communicator.
Judgment should be a part of every lawyer’s skill set. It’s the ability to think problems and challenges through logically, weighing the facts and consequences before making an informed decision about a course of action.
Law firm leaders cannot solely worry about themselves. The decisions they make can affect many people, so they should be well-thought out. There are many unknowns in the management of any business, but a good leader is able to traverse complex situations by considering multiple perspectives and making reasonable decisions for the entire firm. They don’t allow themselves to be pushed into making decisions. They also will not make any decisions without exercising sound judgment.
The willingness to collaborate is an important leadership trait. Successful leadership requires collaboration and contributions from other members of the firm. A firm’s ability to excel may hinge on the leader’s ability to combine and utilize the potential of all its lawyers. Without collaborative skills, a leader may not be able to recognize the potential of others, let alone join them together for the betterment of the firm.
Assertiveness is an important law firm leadership trait, but it goes both ways. When not assertive enough, leaders may be viewed as pushovers and weak – not respected by their staff members. Too much assertiveness can make a leader come off as a pushy bully. Law firm leaders must find a balance when it comes to assertiveness. They must be forceful enough to move the organization in the preferred direction without alienating firm members.
While most people don’t think of creativity as a leadership trait, but it is actually a very important skill for leaders to demonstrate. Creative leaders implement unique methods for getting things done. They work to encourage innovative thought amongst firm members and provide imaginative insights to problems and tasks. Creative leaders are also excellent at inspiring those around them, which promotes a more productive work environment.
According to an IBM survey involving 1,500 chief executives from around the globe, creativity is the most sought-after trait in leaders today. This is because creative leaders know how to inspire outside the box thinking and innovative ideas. A creative leader has the tools to increase workplace satisfaction and build a highly effective team.
Successful law firms are client centered law firms, so their leadership needs to demonstrate this same trait. That means identifying who the firm’s clients are and what they actually expect. When leaders understand these wants and needs, they can provide members with the proper guidance to meet these expectations consistently.
The client-centered leader understands the day-to-day interactions between client and the law firm. By cultivating a strong client-centered environment, a law firm leader can enjoy the benefits of a positive reputation within the legal community – the type of reputation that leads to a strong referral game and lucrative cases.
A detail-oriented person commonly focuses on the intricate details of a situation. But, as a law firm leader, this person must also be able to see the overall picture. These types of leaders cannot allow themselves to get so bogged down in the details that they start over-thinking or obsessing about a problem. However, if a detail -oriented leader can strike the right balance, he or she can definitely lead a law firm to excel.
Find your own leadership style
Each of these skills play an important role in the effective leadership of a successful law firm. If you are trying to find your own leadership style, remember that the most important step is staying true to yourself and your values.