Emotional Intelligence

In talking about client relations lawyers like to talk about the importance of using simple English, killing clients with kindness and generally keeping things simple for clients. It seems years of training and our natural lawyerly DNA inhibits this. So, instead, we are killing clients with complexity and bloody mindedness. Clients use this as yet another reason (did they need another?) to try to get their ‘legal’ work done elsewhere (i.e. outside the legal profession), sometimes at all costs.

Yes, that complicated mess is the array of plugs and wires for an office building! Something like the complex layers of mush some lawyers seem to be making of clients’ favourite projects! (Photo Credit: Bitterjug via Compfight cc)

This was brought home to me twice in the last month in conversations with clients, both interestingly enough experienced lawyers themselves.

The first client, let’s call her Sue, heads up a very sizable charity and has recently been involved in some very large commercial transactions worth millions of dollars. As most will know many charities have been forced to fend for themselves nowadays and so engage actively in supportive commercial activities. Inevitably Sue had to engage lawyers. Her legal bill with her main firm amounted to millions of dollars per annum.

Continue Reading Killing clients with complexity – be sure to recognise and address it

So far we have considered some 18 leadership lessons from Steve Jobs from Parts ONE, TWO and THREE of this series and how they may be relevant for legal leaders – all based on the Walter Isaacson article it the HBR. There are some things however I wouldn’t recommned for legal leaders.

He was feisty, scary, tough on people, very often unreasonable and downright rude - people at Apple didn't want to get in the lift with him! But he did have another side. . . . . ..

So what are the personal style and leadership characteristics of Jobs one would not recommend for legal leaders?

  1. being more about me than about you
  2. not caring about others’ feelings
  3. aggression and anger openly used in discussions with others
  4. out and out rejection of ideas – ‘that is crap
  5. strong language
  6. expecting/demanding the impossible
  7. being devious in demanding things from others
  8. being more selfish than selfless
  9. not taking a genuine interest in the personal and professional well-being of others
  10. simply expecting others to be able to handle his style and approach

and so on, you get the drift, but he, unlike most of us, could pull this off because of who he was and what he had achieved. He could afford to hire highly paid, highly capable, tough people who could handle it all and it worked, brilliantly. In my experience many senior leaders like managing partners don’t exhibit these tendencies, and I don’t think it would go down too well or be swallowed in a legal environment.However, pause and look around the office and there are usually some leaders who do – they need to be addressed on this as it can be a deadener to your employment brand if it is not.

And now, one last thing. . . . many of you will know Steve Jobs often ended off his renowned presentations – many of them quite long – with a pause, raised his finger, turned to the audience and said ‘ah, just one more thing . . . ‘ and then launched into discussion about a key development. This was the item that usually stuck in everyone’s mind. Continue Reading The real leadership lessons of Steve Jobs – just one more thing: PART FOUR (final)

What to do and what not to do with difficult partners was the subject of two recent posts (Leadership Frame #8 & #9). Coincidentally I came across a recent article from Travis Bradberry at Talent Smart (the EQ/emotional intelligence people) and he offered some more tips from an EQ perspective which I thought would be helpful for readers. Essentially this is about ensuring your own emotional intelligence is such that you are well prepared to deal with difficult partners. This requires understanding EQ and then having some EQ strategies you can use to assist in these situations.  I summarise some of these below with my liberal editing and annotation in the context of dealing with difficult partners.

Difficult partners, like angry babies, can at times be impossible. You need to be geared up to deal with them and not avoid the issues they bring to the firm. EQ techniques can provide some pointers.

Just like angry babies, difficult partners sometimes defy logic. While some partners may be blissfully unaware of the negative impact they have on those around them, some  almost seem to get satisfaction from being obstructive, creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity and strife and end up wasting a heck of a lot of leadership and management time.

Bradberry  (author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0) makes two important points:

  1. to deal with difficult people effectively, you need an approach that enables you, across the board, to control what you can eliminate and know what you can’t; and
  2. the important thing to remember when it comes to difficult partners, and the impact that they have on you and the firm, is that you are in control of far more than you realize.

Suggested steps: Continue Reading Difficult partners and angry babies have a lot in common – some EQ tips

Leadership Frame #1 – Emotional Intelligence (‘EQ’)

In an earlier post I signaled posting  on Leadership Frames – key techniques and skills for successful leaders – simple yet effective – this is the first of the series.

Leaders should understand the importance of EQ. It determines leadership success and top performers are high in EQ. Together with our innate intelligence (‘IQ’) and personality, it makes us who we are.

EQ is a flexible skill that can be learned. In other words, even if you are not born with it, high EQ is one of the leadership frames that can be developed. Many of the points in this post are highlighted in the excellent book  Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Bradberry & Greaves.

EQ, IQ and Personality: who we are

Our IQ (intellect or intelligence) is distinct from EQ.

Three distinct qualities we all possess - IQ and Personality which are fixed, and EQ which can be developed. (Graphic adapted from EQ 2.0)

IQ is not flexible and is fixed from birth. You do not get smarter by learning new facts or information. Intelligence is rather your ability to learn. It is the same at age15 or 50. Continue Reading Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – Leadership Frame #1

Leadership Frames – essential skills, techniques, processes, understandings, thinking and behavioral styles for leadership. I intend to deal with 25 to 30 of these frames over future blog posts, the first, on Emotional Intelligence, starts today.

Many leaders ‘wing it’. They rely on their innate ability and don’t develop their leadership skills and learn key skills and techniques, many of them very simple: I suspect this is often due to time constraints, or leaders being so busy worrying about others and about their firms, that they never get a chance to think about their own leadership roles.

Leadership Frames is my attempt to fill this gap.

Leadership Frames - essential techniques, skills, thinking & learning for successful leaders - simple yet powerful - coming up in future blog posts

A lot of my work involves leaders, senior managers and leadership – coaching, teaching, mentoring, development, challenges and so on – and thinking and reading about how leadership can be optimized – through this I have evolved a list of key things leaders should master outside of their own personal make-up – personality, experience and natural intelligence – to truly excel in leadership.

As we all know, we can’t do much about IQ and personality, which are fixed, but there are plenty of other things we can learn about, or techniques we can master, that can undoubtedly enhance our ability to lead. Continue Reading Leadership Frames – essential skills and styles for leadership

I talked on leadership tips and frames at a keynote at the annual Boss of the Year Awards Convention in South Africa in August 2011.

Brand Pretorius, recently retired former head of Toyota and McCarthy Motor Holdings in South Africa and a recognized ‘captain of industry’, also delivered a keynote drawing on his extensive leadership experience, with some very wise counsel for aspiring and existing leaders. I thought his leadership tips would be of particular interest to legal leaders – what follows is drawn from my rough notes of his talk –

Image by Patrick Hoesly

By way of introduction he noted that:

  • throughout his career he learned something new about leadership every day of his career and continues to do so.
  • a search on the internet will reveal in excess of 15 million books on leadership and management; clearly, a complex subject.
  • leadership is both an art and a science.

Important leadership tips:

Leadership is not management

  • to be an effective leader one has to strike the right balance between leadership and management
  • management is about things, processes, planning and speed
  • leadership is entirely different;
  • with leadership you have to have the courage to go first
  • leadership is about giving direction and inspiring and influencing people.
  • he said at times he felt he erred in placing too much emphasis on management and not enough on leadership – one often sees this in organisations, many of which are over-managed and under-led.

If you cannot manage yourself it is impossible to lead others effectively

  • you have to develop the ability to lead and manage yourself.
  • it is vital that leaders must have sufficient Emotional Intelligence (EQ) in that leaders need to be able to both understand and manage their own emotions and cultivate good relationships with others.
  • some leaders are functionally good but emotionally illiterate.

Continue Reading 8 leadership tips for legal leaders from business leader