Law firms have not always recognised the correlation between leadership in various parts of a firm and overall organisational success. This has changed – successful firms have learned the benefit of a focus on leadership at both the top levels of the organisation and in various roles below that. Areas that have attracted increased attention in recent years are practice or industry sector group leadership as well as partner–lawyer team leadership, two pivotal areas and determinants of overall success and profitability. In this sense ‘leadership’ has become an important matter for every partner in every firm and in many firms some form of contribution to leadership within the firm has become an important criterion for performance.
The challenge for most firms has been to find enough partners to undertake leadership roles or to develop the leadership capability they believe or hope exists within the firm.
We have extensive experience assisting firms to identify leadership potential, develop leadership and governance structures, leadership skills and roles and most importantly, to build the quality of leadership being exercised throughout firms. We develop coaching and training regimes for firms around leadership and emphasise that leadership development is just that, a development over time, which needs ongoing attention and evolution – also that there are various styles of leadership which can and should be brought to bear in different scenarios faced by leaders.
We have found that while not every partner has the necessary capability to head up an organisation, it is our belief that every partner has leadership capability and that this important capacity should be realised to fullest potential. The sum total of this leadership capability being brought to bear for the benefit of a firm can have a massive impact on the firm’s fundamental strength and ultimately, financial success.
No-one needs reminding of how competitive legal practice has become. As a result it has become obvious to firms that every effort must be made to help every partner and staff member realise their full potential. This has led many firms to consider the introduction of partner performance management systems or similar. We have assisted many firms worldwide to develop and implement such systems, helping them to grow, develop and improve profitability in the process, but at the same time ensuring such systems are suitably aligned to the firm’s culture.
In some cases we have assisted firms to recognise and implement new performance criteria, which when harnessed, can play a definitive role in transforming partner cultures and performance. One such example is the concept of capital fabric™ i.e. building the foundational, fundamental, long term strength of a firm.
One of the challenges of introducing such systems is to “take the partnership group with you”. To achieve wide ranging and long term success such systems need the active involvement and full support of the partners. We have worked with the leadership teams of many firms to ensure that this is achieved.