- The best of the best at managing people share these traits in common.
- In working with numerous managing partners and firm leaders, we’ve found that even those who are very good at technical and tangible aspects of managing.
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We describe the best law firm managers we work with as champions for three reasons. First, they are champions in demonstrating the highest levels of people management skills. Second, and of more importance, they are dedicated to supporting and championing the members of their firms. They help them develop to their full potential, and foster relationships among them so they work together smoothly and efficiently for the benefit of their firm and its clients. And third, as a result of their development efforts, they end up creating and managing their own team of champions.
Champion managers don’t expect or receive trophies, ribbons, or plaques. While recognition for their management efforts is appreciated, the reward they really care about is having a profitable, resilient law firm with a positive, harmonious culture. Champion managers recognize that a firm’s most important asset is its people, and for their firm to thrive, they must invest time and energy in the management and development of them.
In working with numerous managing partners and firm leaders, we’ve found that even those who are very good at technical and tangible aspects of managing (e.g., budgeting, forecasting, receivables, governance and formulation of policy) often struggle and feel stuck when it comes to the people side of management. At times they feel lost or ineffective when it come to motivating, engaging, developing, holding accountable and retaining the members of their firm. Champion managers, by contrast, excel in this area, and we’ve found that they share certain traits and beliefs. Here are the five that we see most often.
Champions use delegation not merely as a way to get things done, but also as a tool for developing firm members. They are also extremely skillful when both giving and receiving feedback. Rather than seeing feedback as a way to correct behavior and improve technical competence, they see it as an opportunity for mutual learning and collaborative problem-solving. Champions know that delegation and feedback are the best tools for driving engagement.
One of the most interesting things we’ve learned about champion managers is that very few of them consider themselves born leaders or managers. Rather than champion management being a matter of innate traits, most attribute their success and effectiveness to a desire to learn, hard work and practice.