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Post #778 – Friday,
September 1, 2017
Another Leadership Nugget I Overheard
As a leader you are often
surrounded by people who are content to stay where they are. They do what is expected, but just
enough. They play it safe and never go
beyond what’s expected; head down, simply following the ones in front. They are the 80 percent who accomplish the 20
percent. They go with the flow, but are
soon “hooked” by their own disengagement.
They get entangled in the nets of complacency. Today, it seems, for all too many people it’s
5 p.m. not only somewhere, but everywhere.
Then there are the
outliers – the 20 percent who accomplish the 80 percent – who have the hustle
and hunger that allows them to rise above the rest. If only those qualities could be taught to
the others! CEOs will hire hunger and
hustle over pedigree any day.
The talented few don’t
have jobs, they have purpose; they radiate passion. Especially people who are diverse in thought,
experiences and backgrounds – they are incredibly agile around the new and
different, and willingly become fish out of water who thrust themselves into
unfamiliar environments. Insatiably
curious about what is around the next bend, they balance past experiences with
first-time challenges. They don’t shy
from the rapids or the shoals, nor do they avoid the deep waters where few
go. They don’t just cope with change,
they welcome and even instigate it. They
are the innovators and disruptors who aren’t caught up in the ordinary.
What about you?
Compliments of Gary Burnison, CEO – Korn
Rant #777 – Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Six Great Leadership Nuggets I've Overheard
• When hiring
candidates, ask for their operating manual.
candidates: “Imagine you're a robot. What does your manual say under 'ideal
operating conditions.'” Once they
answer, follow-up with this question: “What does the 'warning label' say?” You're likely to get insightful, unpredictable
and even humorous answers but this is likely to be very subtle way of gauging an
individual’s self-awareness and revealing their personality.
• Make speed your leadership obsession.
I have long believed that
the two attributes most important to having the right professionals working
along side you is having talent that has “highly attuned attention to detail”
and an “fanatical sense of urgency.”
Many a firm leader and CEO has spoken about how speed is the ultimate
competitive weapon in business. All else
being equal the fastest competitor in any given market will win. As one CEO expressed it, “challenge the
when!” For my part, I continue to be
absolutely amazed at just how often the best articulated plans and actions are
discussed in meetings without any attention being directed to who is going to
do what and by when. It’s not that
everything needs to be done NOW, but for items on your critical path, it’s
always useful to challenge the due date. All it takes is asking the simplest
can't this be done sooner?” Asking it methodically, reliably and habitually can have a
profound impact on the speed of your organization
• Practice saying “No” real often.
As you get into a
leadership position you have more people reaching out to you, more invitations
to meetings, more requests for you to make a decision, more emails to read and
respond to and as one leader phrased it – death by a thousand paper cuts. Saying no is not easy, especially as you want
to be helpful and love to see yourself as a problem solver. But you have to
draw the line somewhere. To do this
most important thing is that you close the door to further communication. Do it nicely in a way that truthfully
explains the situation, but don’t leave things open-ended. Try this: “Great to hear from you.
Unfortunately, I’m under some extreme pressure to deliver against some very
ambitious goals. My sincere thanks for understanding.”
• Expect to be attacked.
If you are at all effective as a leader you may expect that some
people will react negatively to what you are declaring as your priorities and
then begin a campaign of sabotage. In
some instances their resistance will be very overt - characterized
by the obvious and verbalized messages that let you know clearly that someone
is not supportive. As frustrating as
open resistance can be, the good news in these situations is that there are no
surprises. You know exactly where someone is coming from. In other cases it will be very subtle, which
may look like a smile to their face but undermining behavior behind your
back. Being attacked comes with the job. Just recognize that it is not about you as
much as it is about people’s insecurities, people trying to measure up and
just trying to merely hold on to what they have or where they are.
• Make sharing credit a part of your meeting agenda
Periodically, start off meetings with team members sharing
all the good things that have happened since the last meeting. Examples include specific acknowledgments of
individuals, announcement of successes — even small ones — or expressing
gratitude for the team in general. This
is a quick activity that can boost morale and make it easier for those who are
unaccustomed to giving or receiving appreciation.
• Measure your
people’s happiness as a performance indicator.
satisfaction is an important and useful leading indicator of productivity. A lot more firms are starting to proactively
keep tabs on how their people, both professionals and staff, are feeling about
their work. One tactic is to run an
anonymous survey (using a tool like Glint) that asks people
how willing they are to go above and beyond, whether they see themselves
staying at the firm for more than a couple of years, and whether they'd
recommend working at the firm to friends.
Benchmark the results you get every six months to make sure you're
maintaining or getting better.
Post #776 – Saturday
June 17, 2017
I’ve Been Busy Writing
My sincere apologies
to friends in my tardiness with updating my Blog. By way of an excuse and as an apologetic
offering, here are links to some articles and materials that I hope you find
useful and interesting – a summary of my most recent writings:
REPORTS, ARTICLES AND WHITEPAPERS
Law Firm Strategic Planning And Deployment:
Report On The State of the Art
World-class motivational expert and author of Natural
Born Winners, Robin Sieger, once said, “planning is as natural to the
process of success as its absence is to the process of failure.” That
said he forgot to add that planning doesn’t mean a heck of a lot if nobody
bothers to oversee or implement those meticulously formulated
aspirations. Such is the world of law firms and their strategic planning
efforts as exposed in a survey legal consultant Patrick McKenna and I conducted
for presentation at the recent Ark Group/Bloomberg Chief Strategy Officer’s
Summit in New York City. We canvassed
and received detailed feedback from 68 firm leaders, mostly from AmLaw ranked
firms, on their approach to strategic planning and their specific responses to
18 questions covering everything from who was involved in developing their
current strategic plan and how long it took, to how satisfied they were and the
one thing they would change with respect to their efforts in the future. We found that . . .
Fearless: Facing Uncertainty in the
Legal Market with Confidence and Insight
[Thomson Reuters White Paper]
Today’s legal market is rife
with situations that could be seen as fear-inducing. This is not to say that
leaders in today’s legal market are paralyzed by concerns. No, indeed those
leading today’s legal businesses are savvy, educated, and bold in many
respects. But the comfort of the status quo can sometimes make exploration of
the unknown appear undesirable, or even intimidating. Today’s legal leaders know about pushing fear
aside – in their jobs every day they identify and mitigate risk, weigh options,
and handle a myriad of issues, big and small, that hinge on their ability to
put aside fear of change, fear of the legal market, and fear of meeting their
clients’ needs – and simply do their jobs with confidence and insight.
When Two Must Work as One: The Challenges in Sharing Leadership
[Legal Executive Institute column]
From my work with leaders of major law firms over the years, one
of the inherent problems of having two professionals sharing any senior
leadership role starts with role clarity. Indeed, the need for developing role
clarity is not easy when most firms do not even have a formal written job
description for their Chair or Managing Partner positions. The job of leading a
law firm may certainly be demanding enough for two professionals; but the test
is selecting the right two people to share the role. From my vantage point I
have witnessed multiple examples of attempts to split the firm leadership job
that led to clashing egos and crippling power struggles, especially if one of
these two partners conceals any ambition for holding the position alone.
Becoming A Visionary Law Firm: Developing Board Foresight
Nearly every law
firm of any significant size will have a Board of Directors or Executive
Committee comprised of partners elected by their peers, for some predefined
term. Some Boards are primarily
concerned with providing oversight on the activities and actions of their
management team (managing partner, management committee and administrative
professionals) and some are actually charged with developing the firm’s formal
strategic plan or direction such that the management team can then focus
primarily on implementation. In either
scenario, your elected Board is a valuable resource . . . if used properly.
Preconditions To Setting-Up Your Own Advisory Board
You don't always have to go it alone or rely only on the intuition of
your colleagues. A good number of professional firms have formed an
advisory board to counsel the firm leader and/or the firm’s elected board on
various aspects of their business – everything from operations to personnel to
planning for growth.
How Having An Advisory Board Can Add Value
If you are like many Firm Leaders you probably belong to one or more peer
organizations where you can network with fellow professionals. But, what
I’ve learned is that you may not feel comfortable sharing your most sensitive
or pressing management challenges, or discussing competitive opportunities
among those same peers. Having your own advisory board can supplement
those peer networks and relationships.
NEW BOOKS CONTRIBUTIONS
and Managing Performance for Law Firms
Lawyers are no strangers to performance metrics: from billable
hours to PEP statistics and hours billed. However, firm-wide performance
metrics are hard to tackle – not only are the numerous aspects often intangible
and difficult to measure, but they can differ between firms, practice areas,
and individual roles. Ark Groups new
book - Measuring and Managing Performance for Law Firms
offers an in-depth overview of the metrics and key performance indicators
(KPIs) that firms can employ to effectively measure and manage their workforce
and firm-wide performance.
Managing Your Legal Organization: Global Insights
[Published in India]
A compendium of thought pieces by global management
experts and conversations with leading Indian Senior Law Firm Partners.
of the Legal COO
For law firms considering restructuring their business to meet
the demands of a highly competitive market, hiring an experienced chief
operations officer (COO) is sure to be a consideration. However, the
reassignment of duties and shift in perspective this appointment will require
may prove challenging for some firms. Finding the perfect match for a firm’s
unique culture and requirements is a difficult yet essential task. With
input from a number of current law firm COOs and executive directors, alongside
some of the most respected and sought-after consultants working in the legal
space, Rise of the Legal COO examines the scope and variety of the legal COO role
and how the challenges and demands of the position have altered as law firms
have evolved over the last two decades.
Recruiting and Retaining
Innovative Strategies to
Attract, Develop and Retain Legal Talent
The competition for talent that leading experts started to
describe in the 1990s has now become a reality in the legal profession. Like
most industries across the globe, the legal industry is facing a shortage of
exceptional people. Although in some jurisdictions there are more lawyers than
the market can absorb, the reality is that the number of lawyers with the right
skills is limited and that organizations are fighting to attract and retain the
best professionals in a legal market that has become globalized and where
mobility is now the norm. The ability of law firms to adopt innovative and
tailored recruitment and retention strategies for their size, culture and
market has become a strategic priority and one of the biggest determinants for
a firm’s competitive success. This
practical handbook, coordinated on behalf of the International Bar Association, explores the opportunities and
challenges for adopting effective recruitment, development and retention
Changing of the Guard: Selecting Your Next Firm Leader - 2nd Edition
Fully revised and updated in 2017, with exclusive NEW content
and even more contributions from current firm leaders, the second edition of
The Changing of the Guard: Selecting Your Next Firm Leader is packed with
useful exhibits, thought-provoking questionnaires, and advice direct from new,
current, and past firm leaders, this is a straightforward, step-by-step guide
to leadership succession planning, which will help firms establish what they
want their future to look like – and find the best person to lead them
Post #775 – Thursday, June
is Constantly Accelerating
Every year, it’s getting faster and faster, developing and
expanding exponentially. And when it
does this, it also impacts the pace of change.
• Here is What Is Happening Online in Only 60
149,513 emails are sent
3,300,000 posts are added
3,800,000 searches are
conducted on Google
65,972 photos are uploaded
448,800 tweets are posted
1,440 posts are added to
29,000,000 messages are
sent via WhatsApp
500 Hours of video are
uploaded to YouTube
. . . All in the time it took
you to read this!
The world has fallen in
love with social media and now automatically turns to online platforms to
research and buy products and services. Meanwhile, across the
globe, the United Kingdom has the fastest mobile internet speeds, averaging
about 26 megabits per second (Mbps). The data — which was pulled from Akamai’s
State of Internet report — shows that Germany (24.1 Mbps) and Finland (21.6
Mbps) round out the top three spots. The
United States failed to make the top 25 and secured the 28th spot at 10.7
• And Here is The Next Trillion Dollar Industry
Virtual Reality is going to create an opportunity like we’ve
only seen twice before. First there was the Internet. This was a
trillion-dollar opportunity. It’s still ongoing, but the Internet is the
present — not the future. The app store was the second trillion-dollar
opportunity. The entire ecosystem of smartphones and tablets and the cloud and
applications moved computing into our hands. And now the third trillion-dollar
opportunity has finally arrived: virtual reality.
This year, 2017, for virtual reality is like 1994 for the
Internet. The first commercial AI headsets will be launched. The chips are
being developed. The storage is getting prepared. The entire infrastructure for
the third trillion-dollar opportunity has been created in the past 20 years.
Many of the companies creating the technology and hardware are private. Which
ones will be the winners?
Post #774 – Wednesday, March 22, 2017
The Spring-Summer Issue of International Review Magazine is Now Available
Two of the articles
contained here are the result of a collaboration with my good friend and
colleague, David Parnell whose regular Forbes column is avidly read by leaders
throughout the legal community. The Burning Issues Facing Firm Leaders in
2017 and Leaders Get the Behavior You Tolerate
are the product of extensive surveys we have conducted during the past six
months and should provide you with intersting data and substantive counsel.
The Firm of Choice, I am pleased to feature an excerpt from a new book
(by the same title), authored by old friends Robert Lees and August
Aquila. I commend both this article and
their new book as insightful and very worthwhile reading.
coping with the stress involved in looking like you know what you are doing to
the enormous time demands imposed by partner requests, The Five Challenging Paradoxes of
Firm Leadership identifies the top tensions that every leader has to
contend with at some point in their leadership role.
Your Clients To Do Your Talking offers some practical advice for how
you can meaningfully differentiate who you are and what you have to offer
final selection, When A Firm Leader Hangs Up The Crown, represents an except from
the newly revised and expanded second edition of my The Changing of The Guard: Selecting Your New Firm Leader, destined
to be published in April 2017.Click on the cover to download your complimentary PDF copy of this magazine
Post #773 – Wednesday,
March 22, 2017
The Challenges Inherent in Assessing Firm Leader
In a recent article I was reading, the former chair of Hinshaw
Culbertson wrote about How To Evaluate Law
Firm Leaders. While I concur with the overall theory of his
message that law firm leader should receive feedback, from my experience it is
critically important to recognize that there are some real-world hurdles to
To Read the rest of my article in Legal Executive Institute - Click here
in an article I wrote some years back (2010) Evaluating
Your Performance As A Managing Partner, I wrote “There is an old adage in managing
a client’s expectations that states, whether we like it or not, we are going to
be measured. If we take a very passive approach the measuring stick
against which we will be measured will be exclusively a creation of our client.
Alternatively, we can help create and shape the measurement criteria.”
My message was that as the firm leader you should take the initiative
and I provided a quick-and-easy sample of 29 evaluative factors that any firm
leader could use to elicit feedback from their colleagues.
Post #772 – Wednesday,
March 22, 2017
Delighted To Have Contributed to a Number of New Books
Rise of the Legal COO – published by Ark Publishing
For law firms considering restructuring their business to meet
the demands of a highly competitive market, hiring an experienced chief
operations officer (COO) is sure to be a consideration. However, the reassignment of duties and shift
in perspective this appointment will require may prove challenging for some
firms. Finding the perfect match for a
firm’s unique culture and requirements is a difficult yet essential task. With input from a number of current law firm
COOs and executive directors, alongside some of the most respected and
sought-after consultants working in the legal space, Rise of the Legal COO
examines the scope and variety of the legal COO role and how the challenges and
demands of the position have altered as law firms have evolved over the last
For more details - https://www.ark-group.com/product/rise-legal-coo#.WK4R-VeE1OE
Recruiting and Retaining
Lawyers: Innovative Strategies to Attract, Develop and Retain Legal Talent - published by Global Law and Business.
competition for talent that leading experts started to describe in the 1990s
has now become a reality in the legal profession. Like most industries across
the globe, the legal industry is facing a shortage of exceptional people.
Although in some jurisdictions there are more lawyers than the market can
absorb, the reality is that the number of lawyers with the right skills is
limited and that organizations are fighting to attract and retain the best
professionals in a legal market that has become globalized and where mobility
is now the norm. This practical
handbook, coordinated on behalf of the International Bar Association
(IBA), explores the opportunities and challenges for
adopting effective recruitment, development and retention strategies.
For more information - http://www.globelawandbusiness.com/RRL
Post #771 – Wednesday, March 22, 2017
There A New Science To Teamwork?
a very long time subscriber and member of your HBR Advisory Council I cannot
tell you how shocked I was to read your March-April cover article: “The New
Science of Teamwork.”
Are you kidding me? Where in the world do the folks at Deloitte get
away with suggesting that anything in this supposedly research based article is
“new” other than modified labeling of their four primary styles and a fancy
product name: “Business Chemistry.”
in 2002, when Dr. David Maister and I authored our book, First Among Equals:
How To Manage a Group of Professionals, we devoted a 22-page chapter, “Deal
Differently With Different People” to (these same) four distinctive work
styles and provided in-depth guidelines to assist our readers in understanding
and working with each. But even more importantly, we cited our primary
source, the extensive research of Dr. David Merrill (Personal Style and
Effective Performance, St. Lucie Press) whose work on this subject was
first published over 35 years ago.
these authors and the folks at Deloitte to make claims that they have built
this assessment tool and that it is the product of over 190,000 individual
assessments is, in my opinion, a blatant infringement in intellectual integrity
and I guess goes to prove the adage that if one waits long enough the old
becomes the new once again. Very Sad!
This is a copy of the letter I recently sent to HBR Magazine - https://hbr.org/archive-toc/BR1702
Post #770 – Wednesday, January 18,
What Leadership Messages Are You Sending?
One of the more profound things I’ve learned and try to pass
along to new leaders (be they managing partners or practice heads) is to “act
like you are on stage at all times… because you are!” Everything you do
and say will send messages, set a tone, establish expectations and
communicate direction about what is of priority to you.
With that in mind, you need to carefully orchestrate what
symbolic acts you may want to execute to create a lasting impression and convey
what you stand for in 2017. In other words, you need to always think
through the following items.
Read the remainder of my latest column on Legal Executive Institute.
Post #769 – Wednesday, January 11,
What Do You Know About BlockChain?
In 2015, Virgin’s Richard Branson hosted a “blockchain summit”
on his private Caribbean island. In that
same year, while addressing a Conference of managing partners and legal
marketing professionals, I asked the audience, how many of them had heard about
BlockChain and to my surprise not a single hand was raised. And that has been the pattern throughout all
of 2016 whenever I broach the topic with some group of lawyers – including in
December when I raised the topic again amongst the partners of a significant
Well, for what it’s worth, I received
a note the other day from Gerald Celente, Publisher of
The TRENDS JOURNAL, updating me on a few of the latest developments.
Groups ranging from Wells Fargo to the London Stock Exchange are
getting ready for a blockchain-based future.
Overall, more than $1.5 billion has been invested worldwide in
blockchains’ possibilities so far. Goldman
Sachs has put $50 million into startups creating their own blockchains. And the U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of
England and the Bank of Canada have all announced plans to examine the pros and
cons of digital currencies. Perhaps as
early as this year, your bank or investment manager could be managing your
money with blockchains. But blockchains
will reach beyond banks — it’s good for much more than logging payments. They
can be used to validate the security of anything with value.
Gem, a blockchain entrant, has partnered with Capital One and
healthcare giant Philips to smooth and speed payments for medical insurance
claims. The Cambridge, Massachusetts,
company Learning Machine has partnered with MIT’s Media Lab to create a
blockchain that stores and verifies academic degrees and professional
certifications. A college graduate can store diplomas and certificates
electronically on a smartphone.
In June, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security gave a $199,000
grant to Factom, a company in Austin, Texas, to figure out ways to use
blockchain designs to maintain the integrity of the so-called internet of
things. With every device connected to
every other one through the internet, the potential for hackers and malware
skyrockets. Blockchains may be a new tool for cybersecurity. And with a grant from the Bill and Melinda
Gates Foundation, Factom is setting out to apply blockchains to secure
electronic medical records as well.
It’s not only about keeping snooping insurance companies from
prying into your health history. There’s
also the problem that medical records in developing countries or remote regions
aren’t always accessible and sometimes not updated quickly. Blockchains resolve those problems. Using the blockchain’s options, people could
decide who may see their medical records. People could even have ready access
to their own records, instead of wrangling with a doctor before getting a look.
Major companies are betting big on blockchaining’s future. To set a standard, more than 30 major
companies — including Hitachi, JP Morgan and Intel — have formed
Hyperledger. That project aims to settle
on a general-purpose blockchain structure that can be used by any enterprise in
any industry. IBM already has chipped in tens of thousands of lines of software
code to the venture. These companies,
like so many others, invest in the effort because they foresee the benefits.
I believe that Blockchains will transform the way we exchange
value in our digital, cyber-insecure future.
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