Why (and How) to Think of Yourself as a Leader
Unless you’re a managing partner or department head, you probably don’t think of yourself as a “leader.” Nevertheless, you should. Why? Because leaders actively set specific goals, make conscious decisions, and manage others in an effort to achieve those goals.
Whether you own a firm, are a senior partner in a large firm, or are a 3rd year boutique associate, shouldn’t you be thinking and acting like a leader?
The first step is simply to accept that you do, in fact, have the capabilities to be a leader. There is now consensus among researchers that effective leadership is rooted in behavior, not personality. Behavior, of course, can be learned. And – especially for those of us brought up to believe that leaders are born, not made — it’s an idea that is both encouraging and intimidating. It’s encouraging in that you can choose to define and achieve goals as a leader of your organization or team, regardless of its size. Yet, it can be intimidating to accept that responsibility.
So here’s the Quick Tip: start with something small that will pay off quickly. For example, learn how to improve collections by improving your billing process. Learn how to run effective meetings. Learn how to establish boundaries with difficult clients.
Here’s a specific behavior to get you moving: go to the ABA bookstore, browse the section headers, and purchase one title on a topic that would help you to improve your practice: Shop ABA. (Of course, reading it would be a great next step.)
Remember, leaders actively set specific goals, make conscious decisions, and manage others toward achieving those goals. If you’re not leading in your day-to-day professional life, your circumstances are leading you.
Dr. Larry R. Richard is recognized as the leading authority on leadership effectiveness and organizational behavior in law firms. His article Leadership in Law Firms provides a great introduction to basic leadership behavior that lawyers can foster in themselves and their firms.
This link goes directly to the article:
Leadership in Law Firms
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