Leadership in Law: What Kind of Leader Are You?

Law firm leaders come in all shapes and sizes and they may not necessarily be the person who has the biggest share of the firm. Anyone can be a positional leader. That is the person who tells people what to do and it gets done because he or she controls the environment. This is a fear driven leadership.

Good leaders tend to be one of three roles though it is not uncommon for leaders to switch back and forth among the roles.

  • The TRAILBLAZER is the leader who is usually analyzing the field for trends. This person will be clear about the vision of the future and translate that vision into objectives. The Trailblazer communicates the boundaries, interfaces with others and encourages risk-taking.
  • The ARCHITECT builds social and technical systems and sees how they work and makes them better. The Architect will write processes and align systems to the vision. The Architect builds a culture. This leader sets benchmarks for others to learn from.
  • The COACH motivates and develops people. This person will normally have dynamic communication skills. The Coach sets the standards for performance, empowerment and is usually the mentor. The Coach is constantly encouraging people to go beyond themselves and is developing other leaders to help drive the vision of the firm.

Great leaders have a driving passion to realize the firm’s vision. They will not allow events or circumstances to dictate what will happen to them. Leaders build and maintain relationships based on trust.

In working with people within firms from lawyer owners to associates to paralegals to legal secretaries and the management staff and support staff we have found time and time again that people are not working to their full potential. Leaders within a firm should be creating opportunities to help everyone in the firm be more tomorrow than they are today.

I have always said that the best leader is the person in the room you don’t notice right away. That person is helping others to be leaders. They don’t seek recognition. They don’t want praise. They are glad when others are able to be leaders.