6/27/09

How Law Firm Leaders Can Learn From Reuters' Challenges

I usually don't post on the weekends, but I found this quote last night and it really stuck with me:
We must devote the time now to demystifying what we do, and working in concert with those who would seem to be a threat to the old order. Remember that the world ultimately is a reciprocal place. Treat people with respect and as partners, and they will partner with you. Treat people as a threat or as criminals, and they will threaten your institution and ultimately bring it down. This path doesn't have to be scary.
Although this was from a speech by David Schlesinger, Editor-in-Chief Reuters News, given to the International Committee Press Commission on June 23rd, it could be given by any Chairman of any American law firm.
In a time of layoffs, lowering of associate salaries, deferment of associate start dates, removing lock-step promotions, and changing business models (billable hours, fixed fees or alternative billing), it is time for leaders to step back and see if they are doing the things that David Schlesinger mentions:
  1. You're the leader - are you taking the time to lead? (devote the time)
  2. Do those that follow you understand what it is we are doing? (demystify what we do)
  3. Have you identified the reasons for the change and understand it is not going away? (work in concert with the threats to the old world order)
  4. Are the decisions being made in a vacuum, or are you meeting with those that the change is affecting and soliciting ideas from those in the trenches? (remember the world is a reciprocal place)
  5. Are you treating everyone with respect and allowing them to team with you? (treat people as partners and they will partner with you)
  6. Or, are you treating everyone as challenger to your plan and believe that they are the barricades to your plan succeeding? (treat people as criminals and they will threaten your institution and ultimately bring it down)
Following the steps listed above can create a situation where people are moving forward, plan in hand, and with an understanding of what the goals are they are trying to achieve. People therefore understand the challenge and although they may be anxious of what the future has in store for them (it doesn't have to be scary).

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