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Taking Ownership

Practice Building Strategies for New Partners

Thinking like an Owner.

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July/August 2007 Issue | Volume 33 Number 5 | Page 4

On the Horizon for Law Practice Management

The best-selling book The Leadership Challenge, by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, has been called the “bible” of leadership—and it is just as thick. But it is not the number of pages that justifies such an accolade, it is the fact that the book is filled with universal leadership principles that can be applied in every type of organization. Kouzes and Posner contend that there are five practices of exemplary leadership, and during my year as Law Practice Management Section Chair, I have seen the Section’s staff and active volunteer leaders put those practices into action. The five practices, as defined by Kouzes and Posner, are:

  • Model the way—which means “earning the right and respect to lead through direct individual involvement and action.”
  • Inspire a shared vision—which means “leaders ignite the flame of passion in others by expressing enthusiasm for the compelling vision of the group.”
  • Challenge the process—which means “leaders are pioneers—people who are willing to step out into the unknown.”
  • Enable others to act—in other words, “leaders work to make people feel strong, capable and committed.”
  • Encourage the heart—which is “to show appreciation for people’s contributions and create a culture of celebration.”

Growth in the Section’s collective practice of each of these five principles is what I hoped for this year at all levels. Each of you can be the judge of how well we did.

In looking toward the future, I am pleased to report that at the LPM Spring Meeting, the Section Council established a strategy and planning infrastructure that assures that Section leadership will continually ask whether there is a shared vision—and a strategy to achieve that vision—as well as whether Section entities and their active participants are practice management models, both enabling of, and encouraging to, each other and each of our members.

One of my leadership mentors is John Maxwell, who in his 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership proposes this: “The Law of Legacy—A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession.” It seems like yesterday that I wrote my first message in these pages expressing hope that we would do the extraordinary this year. Now I write my last column as Section Chair, and as all who came before me, I hope that we have succeeded in our objectives for the year—and I expect that our Section will continue to move forward in service to members and their clients. I am followed by an excellent and highly skilled leader, Vedia Jones-Richardson, who is not only a friend but a fellow North Carolinian. Maxwell’s Law of Legacy is truly not about what I have done to help prepare Vedia or the Section’s other incoming officers for the new year, but rather about what steps the whole organization, volunteers and staff have taken in each of their respective roles over the past 12 months to help ensure the future success of the Section itself. Owing to the excellent leadership of so many active members and dedicated staff, I am quite confident that the Section is poised for extraordinary success in the year to come.

About the Author

Tom Grella is Managing Partner of McGuire, Wood & Bissette in Asheville, NC, and coauthor of the ABA book The Lawyer’s Guide to Strategic Planning.

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