Professionals are more likely to devote the right amount of time and energy to the leadership job if it is clearly valued. In your firm, is there a belief, widely shared, that good leadership helps to produce first-class results? Is this notion rooted deeply in the culture of the organization? If the answers to these questions are yes, then it is likely that some, at least, of the following activities are taking place:
Senior people, for instance managing partners and partnership board members, behave as effective leaders. They lead by example and become role models.
Senior people communicate the message that high-performing teams, well motivated, inspired and coached by good leaders, contribute to success for the firm and for everyone’s careers. The message is communicated both one to one and in groups. It is put across orally and in writing. It is repeated regularly and in novel ways.
People who lead effectively are rewarded and recognized specifically for doing just that.
The firm makes it clear that the criteria for promotion to partner include evidence of leadership skills, as well as professional competence and an ability to win business.
Significant resources are devoted to leadership training and development as well as specific professional and technical training.
Senior people act as cheerleaders. They communicate good leadership and teamwork practice that they notice in one part of the firm to teams elsewhere in the organization.
John Stapleton, Managing Partner of Thomas Eggar, puts it this way:
We now talk about being leaders before lawyers. Our equity partners are lawyers, of course, but our role as lawyers is subsidiary to our role as leaders within a law firm. For the business to prosper it has to be run properly and be competitive with other legal firms. To be competitive, the business needs the equity partners, the owners, to be fully functioning leaders – leaders of teams, leaders of departments and leaders of geographical locations. We all need to lead members of our teams in the same direction. The firm agrees the direction. Our equity partners, our leaders, increasingly share a common strategic vision. We are becoming more entrepreneurial and we are becoming better at leading by example.
If the importance of good leadership is heralded in your firm, then that is good news. If it isn’t, then why not try to influence senior people towards the value of proclaiming the virtues of good leadership by their own actions and words of mouth? See Influencing Colleagues And Clients for some ideas on improving influencing skills.