Last month, I wrote a blog about Personal Brand and the second section of my Free Standalone Toolkit to Document your Brilliance ® had some exercises for you to complete to take stock of where your Personal Brand is currently and how you are perceived in your marketplace.
I am continuing this theme in connection with you as a Leader. Whereas the Personal Brand qualities exercise was open for you to choose which ones apply to you, this blog is going to highlight specific key personal qualities that make an effective leader in these times. I have chosen these from the many views on what constitutes leadership virtues.
To support this blog I have added a third section to my free Standalone Toolkit – Where to start? Documenting your Brilliance ® as a leader. The first exercise from the toolkit will help you answer the questions to decide What type of Leader am I?
Why are qualities important in a leader?
‘You can be appointed a manager, but you are not a leader until your appointment is ratified in the hearts and minds of those who work for you.’ John Adair, the world’s first Professor of Leadership Studies and has written over 40 books.
I will add to John’s quote to include – ‘and those that work with you at Board or Partnership level’ in other words your colleagues too.
If you want a leadership role then it is worth understanding these traits (and others) so that you can hone these skills before becoming a leader to enable you to engage the hearts and minds of people you work with. Read my blog ‘How do you lead when you are not in charge?’ for more about this.
Another reason for promoting these qualities is that a lot of lawyers already have these and have not viewed them as leadership abilities.
The first quality needed to inspire your followers is Passion/Enthusiasm. If you want your team or colleagues to follow you with their hearts then you must show your passion to engage them on your vision and goal. You can only do this if you believe in what you are doing. To take your team with you have a clear exciting idea of where you want to take them, especially in challenging or extraordinary times.
In my book Business Skills? Don’t be daft I am a lawyer! the majority of the 29 legal business owners had enthusiasm – passion – positiveness as one of their main qualities.
The second inspirational quality is Integrity which will enable you to build trust with your team. It is often referred to as authentic leadership as it emphasises that the leader’s legitimacy lies through their ability to have honest relationships. This means the leader demonstrates that that they value the input of their followers, even when they cannot act upon it.
Generally, authentic leaders are positive people who promote openness. This enables them to build trust in their followers and generate enthusiastic support from their teams; which in turn allows them to assist their teams in improving their performance (both with the individual and collectively). Therefore, it is as focused on people and ethics as it is on performance or profits. As law firms struggle with this due to the billable hours it is very important not to pay lip service to ‘people are our greatest assets’. As your legal and non-legal team members will see immediately if you or your firm don’t mean it.
Therefore, having an internalised moral perspective is a positive ethical foundation adhered to by the leader in their relationships and enables them to make decisions that are resistant to inappropriate outside pressures.
Another one John Adair and I agree on is Toughness. This virtue of leaders has proved invaluable during crises especially in the current pandemic. I would expand this to include courage. Being courageous is another aspect of being tough. In fact, Winston Churchill thought that courage was the foremost of virtues. This is because leaders take risks as there is no certainty in business or life.
When you are truthful, both in ‘success and failure,’ you teach honesty is really the best policy. This is useful in the good and ‘bad’ times as it provides a good foundation on which to take calculated risks that demonstrate commitment to your people, your vision and values.
Resilience is a critical factor to Toughness because it helps a leader to maintain balance during difficult or stressful periods of ‘leadership’ time. Resilience is particularly being tested in this pandemic. Without Toughness built on resilience and courage it would be easy to ‘live and operate’ in overwhelm in view of the never-ending changes imposed during stressful times, so being able to adapt to change and thrive in the face of great uncertainty is vital. These qualities enable you to focus on your past successes and solutions to your current challenges.
Why are skills important to a leader?
Competency of a leader builds trust. In a legal practice, technical competency is expected even in a leadership role. What is often overlooked by lawyers is their leadership, management and interpersonal skills are vital to be an effective leader.
The Leadership Competency Exercise sets out leadership behavioural indicators for an effective leader so that you can assess how your behaviours align with those set out. Being able to demonstrate these indicators is another key element to building your credibility as a leader.
Why is it important for a leader to be associated with success?
As they say, ‘Success breeds Success’ and in a fast-paced environment that is constantly changing it is easy to forget to record and celebrate success. As the organisation cannot be a success without the teams and individuals that make up those teams, it is useful to acknowledge people’s contribution. This Organisational Success Log is a structured way to help you do that.
This focus on success keeps you and your team optimistic that you and they have the capabilities to overcome challenges on the way. It also shows that there are opportunities in everything that happens, positive or negative. So, cultivating this mindset keep everyone on track. See Mindset for Success Section in the Free Standalone Toolkit for further exercises.
Should you have a leadership plan?
There is a famous quote ‘failure to plan is planning to fail’. Simply because your firm does not have any leadership training for their Partners or Associates does not mean you should leave the keys to your success in someone else’s hands. This is one I strongly recommend that you start as early as you can.
My final exercise in the third section of my complimentary Standalone Toolkit contains a simple leadership plan to get you started.
Here are some other ways I can help you develop and hone your leadership skills
Most lawyers end up leading their firm or teams without any training – what is making you leave your success and the success of your firm to trial and error? You don’t need to muddle along that way when help is available.
Remember the future success of your organisation or team is going to be dependent on your leadership skills especially as we come out of this pandemic.
Fast track your leadership skills and/or increase your personal impact as a leader by investing in my one-to-one leadership programmes: Essential Leadership Training for Managing Partners or contact me: email@example.com for a no obligation chat. This programme focusses on improving your personal confidence, communication and impact as well as understanding the purpose and function of leadership for your organisation. It has the option of gaining insights into your leadership style by using the MiRo psychometric test.
Here is what one client said after completing her tailored leadership programme with me:
As a new business leader, she has been instrumental in enabling me to overcome challenges so that my leadership and business can grow and thrive. I couldn’t have done it without her. I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to gain confidence and take the next step in their legal career.’ Jodie Hill Founder and Managing Partner.
Contact me on 07921540039 for a no obligation chat about your leadership needs.
If you want to know how other legal business owners (including Jodie) address their leadership challenges, then my third book Business Skills? Don’t be daft I am lawyer! provides you with their stories. Further Section 5 chapter 5.3, Why is leadership important for developing your business, provides more in-depth exercises for you to hone your leadership skills as well as sharing best practice in leading change.
Ann Page, Business Author, Trainer and coach to the legal profession.
Ann Page, a Top 100 lawyer of the year (2003) has had a successful in-house 28-year career, working mainly in the financial sector. She switched from being a business lawyer in industry to a non-practising solicitor who teaches and coaches on business subjects in 2003. Since then, Ann has trained nearly 7000 lawyers on business skills including leadership, management and interpersonal skills. Ann has always been active in various professional committees and currently she is Treasurer of the Yorkshire Sole Practitioner’s Group, a member of the Professional Speaking Association, Professional Speaking Academy and Leeds Law Society.