November/December 2019

The Thriving Lawyer

Leaders Can Help Their Law Firms Thrive

Anne Brafford

Think for a moment about the most effective leaders you’ve encountered in your life. Do you have some people in mind? Great! Now think about what makes these people stand out in your memory. How did they behave? What were their special qualities? How did they make you feel? Did you want to do your best for them? Hopefully, you’re now buzzing with warm vibes as you recall your favorite leaders. Your memories are evidence that effective leadership can truly make a difference in people’s lives—including their ability to thrive professionally.

Shaping Positive Work Cultures

Lawyers are most likely to be able to fulfill their potential and maintain their psychological and physical health when their work cultures align with that goal. A key component of thriving work cultures is effective leaders. They contribute to better physical and psychological health, high-quality motivation, performance, work engagement, job satisfaction and retention of valued people. Toxic leaders do just the opposite. They kill motivation and engagement and also contribute to depression, anxiety and burnout.

While all levels of leaders affect workplace culture, it’s leaders who have the most contact with us (e.g., supervising partners, practice group leaders, etc.) who have the biggest impact on our work experience, driving almost 70 percent of workplace perceptions. All of this means that, as leaders, we have an enormous impact—and therefore responsibility—in shaping positive work cultures. 

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