Personal Effectiveness

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

Difficult partners are tough work. As a professional services firm leader or senior manager, at some stage you are going to be faced with the unenviable task of dealing with one or more. As I am sure you will confirm, they can be gnarly, hard nuts to handle.

‘Difficult’ comes in various shapes and forms. They can be brilliant, top fee earners who are loved by their clients but who create trouble for everyone else, or they may be disgruntled, serial under-performers.  These distinctions don’t really matter for the purposes of this article – we can probably all recognise ‘difficult’ when we see and experience it.  Invariably, as a leader you are going to come under some form of pressure in relation to them. So, it is important you know how to respond and that you actually tackle and not avoid the challenge.

Difficult partners can be hard, gnarly nuts to deal with. They come in all shapes and forms. It is important that you don't default to simply bowing to their pressure or avoiding them. Try to find the balance. Whatever you do keep the lines of communication open and a respectful relationship, no matter what. ((c) Sean Larkan image)

It is tempting, even sub-consciously, to distance yourself from such a partner. Or to go soft on them and bow to their pressure in the mistaken belief this will ‘get it out of the way’. This is mainly because most of us don’t relish conflict. These unfortunately are very common courses followed by even the best leaders. My advice, don’t follow either.

If you bow to difficult partners you are effectively giving in to the play-ground bully – the issue may subside for a while when he/she realises they have their way, but it will crop up again and bite you. Also, don’t try to get rid of it by simply ignoring it. You are then guilty yourself of passive-defensive behaviour which is a clear sign of insecurity.  Difficult partners have a keen nose for this insecurity and feed on it.  It will only be a matter of time before something else comes up. You will then be on the run with a track record of having ducked these challenging  issue.

There are some real costs involved in not addressing issues around difficult partners:

In a recently published article in the Australasian Law Management Journal (ALMJ) on thought leadership as a most valuable marketing ally, I emphasized the importance of:

One of the main reasons thought leadership is so powerful is that it acts as a form of invisible and credible third party 'referrer' which clients trust. As a result, thought leaders have less difficulty finding new clients, winning tenders and 'closing the deal'. They can also charge at higher rates and get paid for their services.
  • recognising and taking advantage of valuable, untapped stores of thought leadership assets
  • clarifying what we mean by thought leadership
  • understanding its benefit to lawyers and their firms
  • appreciating where some unrealised thought leadership assets may lurk
  • leaders or senior managers understanding steps they can and should consider to realise these assets
In an upcoming post I will share some thoughts on ways to develop thought leadership material and thought leadership status.
To Aussies world-wide, happy Australia Day!

Last week in Part One of this series Think Write Grow author Grant Butler defined thought leadership, talked about making thought leadership happen in practice and confirmed that just about anyone can become a thought leader. In this Part Two interview we cover thought leadership and personal brand, building trust as a benefit of thought leadership, and finally, how to unearth your goldmine of thought leadership assets.

Thought Leadership can be an important component of personal brand, principally because it builds trust among those who determine the strength of your personal brand. However thought leadership assets often lie hidden in a firm - they need to be unearthed to realize their enormous benefit.

SL: What are the similarities and/or differences between thought leadership and building a personal brand?

GB: Developing, publishing and promoting thought leadership can be a really important part of building a personal brand:

  • The key thing for professionals to consider is whether they want to be seen as someone who has innovative and market-leading ideas, and in turn whether that is going to be a key element of their personal brand profile.
  • If they do want to be known as a thought leader then they should actively share their ideas and also consider the terminology they use to describe themselves in the descriptions they use on websites, in conference flyers and elsewhere. Would they describe themselves as an ‘expert’, a ‘leading expert’, a ‘thought leader’, a ‘leading thinker’ on their topic and so on? Once their positioning is clear, they should reinforce it through their actions and their words.

SL:  In the case of building a personal brand Marty Neumeier, author of “The Brand Gap” would probably say that your personal brand is what others think, not what you think it is. Is the same true of someone being regarded as a true thought leader? Continue Reading Thought Leadership tips for leaders – interview with Think Write Grow author Grant Butler: Part Two

Thought Leadership is an important part of developing one’s personal brand, of contributing to the marketing and business development activities and successes of a firm, and to contributing to building the capital fabric of a firm. As professionals, it is ideally something all of us would aspire to do and be, a thought leader in our chosen area of practice or industry sector. Few of us achieve this.

Grant Butler has recently published his book Think Write Grow (Wiley 2012) which provides an excellent overview and many practical tips on developing and marketing written thought leadership material.  He principally focuses on written material, but the principles outlined apply equally to other ways of developing and supporting thought leadership. This short book will not only prove helpful to produce thought leadership material but is full of ideas and tips about writing any material or piece.

The author agreed to answer some questions which I hope will be helpful to you as law firm leaders and managers when contemplating how to develop your own firm’s thought leadership assets.  As it is quite a long piece and I would like you to get the benefit of all his responses, I will spread it over three posts – Part One, Two & Three. This is the first.

There are some very valuable explanations, ideas and practical steps set out in this readable work on thought leadership. It should be in every professional service firm library and be read by all those wanting to grow their firm's thought leadership assets.

SL: Congratulations on the publication of Think Write Grow (TWG) – I know it is in your book but for the benefit of my readers how would you define thought leadership and what does it comprise?

GB: Thought leadership is certainly described in lots of different ways. In the book, I try to keep it simple by saying that it’s about how experts share their knowledge and come up with new ideas to help people solve problems or uncover opportunities. It’s also important to pull the two words apart  – ‘thought’ and ‘leader’. The first part involves quality thinking, research and innovation about a topic. The second part involves actively sharing that knowledge with others through things like newsletter articles, blogs, books and speeches. That’s the point at which an expert moves from knowing their stuff to being a thought leader. Continue Reading Thought Leadership – Think, Write Grow author Grant Butler provides some insights for law firm leaders: Part One

Last year I posted a Leadership Frame on the usefulness of daily rituals (based in large measure on a post by Tony Schwartz). As most leaders will be starting to think about their personal and professional priorities for the coming year and how they are going to get everything done (rather than get caught up in the spiral of putting out fires or yet again mostly tackling “urgent” items each day) I thought it would be a good time to expand on this post!

Beyond rituals - good PE (personal effectiveness) requires some planning and discipline but is well worth thinking about and implementing. As a leader, if you don't, it can be the single biggest thing that holds you back and creates unnecessary stress

In the rituals post I suggested at the end of each day making a note of the most important (not urgent) thing you will tackle first thing next day (do this and you will be amazed what you have achieved by the end of a week). It also makes you feel good which builds confidence and a sense of well-being.

I would also like to share things I learned from an ARK (Managing Partner) Report “Making every 6 minutes count” by Catrin Mills. While Mills talks mainly of time management I suggest we think more in terms of personal effectiveness (PE). Continue Reading Beyond rituals – personal effectiveness (PE) from 2012