Whether you are a founding partner of a large law firm or you are an individual attorney, you are a leader. As is the case with many businesses, the success of a law firm is fully dependent upon the quality of the attorneys who are employed at that particular firm. The most efficacious law firms understand that its clients are most important and work vigorously to earn and retain their clients’ trust. Additionally, attorneys must not segregate themselves; instead, true leaders act on behalf of the entire firm and rarely sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. The individual who is running the firm should also be constantly learning, whether that process involves a new case, a difficult defendant, or a client who may not be a pleasure to assist. By performing new tasks and facing opportunities for a fresh, different approach, the quality of leadership can drastically improve.
We found these basic leadership principles on Amazon.com and we have decided to implement them into our own business:
Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.
Leaders are owners. They think long term and do not sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say, “that’s not my job.”
Invent and Simplify
Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by “not invented here.” As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.
Are Right, A Lot
Leaders are right a lot. They have strong business judgment and good instincts.
Hire and Develop the Best
Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others.
Insist on the Highest Standards
Leaders have relentlessly high standards – many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and they drive their teams to deliver high quality products, services, and processes. Leaders ensure that defects are not sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.
Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.
Bias for Action
Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.
We try not to spend money on things that do not matter to customers. Frugality breeds resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention. There are no extra points for headcount, budget size, or fixed expense.
Leaders do not believe their or their team’s body odor smells of perfume. Leaders come forward with problems or information, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing. Leaders benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.
Earn Trust of Others
Leaders are sincerely open-minded, genuinely listen, and are willing to examine their strongest convictions with humility.
Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, and audit frequently. No task is beneath them.
Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit
Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.
Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.
High Standards = High Quality
Prosperous law firm partners often have relentlessly high standards, but by continually raising the bar and driving their attorneys to deliver high-quality legal services, more clients will turn to these businesses for legal representation. The most successful law firms earn the trust of others by remaining open-minded, genuinely listening to their clients, and fully examining the details of each particular case. Additionally, the most efficient attorneys know that delivering results is key. While a lawyer may experience a setback from time to time, the best attorneys rise to the occasion and never settle for anything less than what their clients deserve.