Page << Prev 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 Next >> of 66
Post #474 – Monday, June 28, 2010
• It’s worth noting . . .
these wise words shared with me this past week from a friend on how to live life:
"Be true to yourself. Make each day a masterpiece. Help others. Drink deeply from good books. Make friendship a fine art. Build a shelter against a rainy day."
Message from John Wooden's father. The former UCLA basketball coach carried it everywhere with him (Wooden died on June 4, 2010 at the age of 99)
• I’m reading about . . .
how firms looking to stand out need to learn to say “no” to work that is not in their wheelhouse. “After all”, says the author of this article in the June issue of Lexpert, “when you offer to be everything to everybody, nobody wins.” Her very convincing and well written article ends with a biographical paragraph stating that the author works with law firms, legal teams and lawyers in all (my emphasis) areas of practice and consults to national, mid-sized and boutique firms.
Oopppps. Let me be the first to confess that it can be really tough sometimes to practice what you preach!
• I love . . .
a new guidebook that appears on the web site of McDermott Will & Emery documenting how they use a Deal Dashboard to project manage transactions. You can download a copy of the PDF at http://www.mwe.com/info/dealsdashboard.pdf. It is a worthwhile read.
• I’m keeping abreast of . . .
our constantly changing economic environment. If, for example, you are banking on Social Security payments in your future, you may be alarmed to discover that, as of September 30 THIS year, (yes, in three short months) that fund will officially begin shrinking. In other words, it will finally begin paying out more than it takes in. Economists always knew this day of reckoning was coming, thanks mostly to the nation's "inverted pyramid" demographics, where more and more retirees come to rely on the contributions of fewer and fewer workers. What they didn't forecast, however, was that this day would come so soon.
• I’m amused by how . . .
some folks must actually think that you are really gullible. I’ve recently done a bit of an update to my listing on LinkedIn and just happened to notice how a number of people have various testimonial recommendations noted on their listing. Now, if you take another moment to look a little closer . . . and (well I’ll be darned!) you will soon notice that the recipient of the recommendation has written a glowing testimonial in return. One might conclude that this is clear evidence that the age-old principal of reciprocation is alive and well. But, I have to admit a touch more skepticism. I think that this is more the result of some insecure individual saying to a friend, “if you write a recommendation for me, I’ll be pleased to write one for you” and then perhaps we will both look like winners. I take this as a hint that one should NOT always believe what one reads about someone on these kinds of social networking sites without conducting some serious due diligence.
Post #473 – Friday, June 18, 2010
Some Undeniable Truths About Change
If firms want to change effectively, they need to recognize and deal with basic and undeniable truths. These are things that can’t be avoided or changed (ironic), but can be mitigated, leveraged and worked with for change with more ease and less churn.
• Commitment to the past hinders change in the future.
Like a tree’s roots, our hold on the way we do things grows deeper over time. The success or failure of changes in the past, your partners appetite for growth, and the culture of your firm all help determine how deep the roots go and how hard it will be to change.
• Effective communication demands quality and quantity.
Effective communication is critical during any change effort. Honesty, organization, consistency and responsiveness all will help ensure that communications are supporting the change. You can say that again … and again … and again.
• Your actions always speak louder than your words.
What you do and say has far more influence over the success or failure of a change than anything else. Your partners are constantly watching you (not just in scripted moments) for cues.
• People support what they help create.
The movie “Field of Dreams” was close but not exactly right. It is not, “If you build it, they will come,” but rather, “If they build it, they will come.” No partner ever gets excited about, enthusiastic for or willingly supports any direction, strategy or change . . . that they themselves have not had a part in formulating. Your partners inherently connect with something they help build. Engaging people in the change effort early on will pay out big dividends in the long run.
• Firms change only when the partners within the firm change.
It truly does take a village. Law firms are, in essence, groups of people. If your firm is going to change, a critical mass of the partners within your firm need to go through an individual change process.
• Resistance is inevitable.
You probably heard it in high school physics, but Newton said it best . . . “An object at rest tends to stay at rest.” There are personal, structural and physiological reasons to resist change. Firms that expect and deal with resistance proactively will experience the most effective changes.
• Connecting to the head and the heart builds commitment.
In spite of being highly analytical, your partners are not purely rational. They need to have a rational recognition of the need to change, as well as a deeper emotional connection to believe in what the change is all about. Winning the hearts of those who will experience the change will make all the difference.
• Sustaining change takes support and reinforcement.
After an organization changes, you are not in Kansas anymore. Those that make change stick make sure they are hiring, training, developing, measuring, rewarding and communicating with people in ways consistent with the new paradigm rather than the old practices.
To learn even more about change, join me at the University of Chicago on Monday, August 16 for our one-day master class entitled – Overcoming Lawyers’ Resistance To Change
Post #472 – Friday, June 18, 2010
Did You Ever Notice . . .
When you put the 2 words "The" and "IRS" together it spells "Theirs."
The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.
A penny saved is a government oversight.
Long ago when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft.
Today, it's called golf
The Roman Numerals for forty (40) are " XL."
You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.
Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me, I want people to know "why" I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved.
Post #471 – Sunday, June 6, 2010
Building An Environment of Trust
Two years ago, together with Baker & Daniels Chair Emeritus Brian K. Burke, I co-founded what is now known as The LAB (the Managing Partner Leadership Advisory Board) – a forum designed to provide recently appointed managing partners with a source for obtaining pragmatic advice on their leadership questions and critical burning issues. The formation of this group was the result of suggestions made during our bi-annual First 100 Days master class for new managing partners and has proven to be a valuable resource for new leaders.
Here is the latest question in a series of over a dozen different queries that The LAB members have now responded to:
As someone who is about to become this firm’s newest managing partner, my predecessor identified one challenge that he immediately confronted when he took office. The issue is, after you become the firm leader, how do you get a good grasp of people’s candid views, especially when it sometimes seems like all of your partners, and indeed the whole firm, is conspiring to tell you what you want to hear? In other words, how do you ferret out the truth when well meaning partners edit themselves, your administrative staff are not naturally inclined to disagree with you, and the information you receive is, so often, being filtered?
Read: Building An Environment of Trust
The LAB responses derive from its members' many years' experience as law firm leaders. Along with Brian and I, the LAB is comprised of the following distinguished current and former law firm leaders: Angelo Arcadipane (Dickstein Shapiro LLP); John Bouma (Snell & Wilmer LLP); Ben F. Johnson, III (Alston & Bird LLP); Keith B. Simmons (Bass Berry & Sims PLC); William J. Strickland (McGuire Woods LLP); Harry P. Trueheart, III (Nixon Peabody LLP); R. Thomas Stanton (Squire Sanders); and Robert M. Granatstein (Blake Cassels and Graydon).
Post #470 – Sunday, June 6, 2010
When Strengths Become A Liability
When helping practice group leaders assess their performance, I’ve observed that many managing partners / firm leaders unconsciously act like only negative feedback should have any real and practical value.
There is now empirical evidence to show that we need to focus far more on capitalizing on people’s strengths, then simply obsessing about their minor weaknesses. In other words, we need to help people improve, but let’s not become overly obsessive about fixing what’s wrong at the expense of stressing the positives. In my experience, many practice group leaders don’t even fully appreciate their people’s strengths and often underestimate what it is that their fellow partners find supportive and inspiring.
Now that said, there is a consequence in going overboard on any dimension of leadership.
I’m sure that many of you probably utilize performance assessment instruments that have some form of rating scale going from 1 to 5. These scales can lack a way to pick up strengths that may be taken to an extreme. So for example, if you are trying to get a read on the extent to which a particular practice group leader follows up to help members of the team execute effectively on their projects, the highest and best score is presumably a “5.” But a “5” does not distinguish between whether that follow-up is always perceived to be helpful (just right) or whether it is perceived to be micro-managing (too much). The scales we often use to assess performance can mask excess.
The truism – strengths taken to an extreme can become liabilities – leads to the conclusion that you owe it to these practice leaders to help them, not only recognize the strengths they have, but also to help them discover if they are overusing any of those strength.
Post #469 – June 1, 2010
What’s On The General Counsel’s Mind
According to the just published results from the Corporate Board Member annual survey, the 250 plus responding GCs seem to be a pretty laid-back bunch. But they do have their hot zones. A full 49% fret about governance and compliance, for example. The only other issue that gets GCs really warmed up is outside legal fees. More than 48% say they’re concerned or very concerned about what they pay their outside law firms.
Some high points of the survey . . .
• Where GCs say they’ll be needing outside counsel:
Labor / employment 95%
Compliance / governance 89%
Mergers and acquisitions 84%
Intellectual property 81%
Executive compensation 65%
• What they base their choice of outside firms on:
A track record in specific practices 96%
Personal relationship 68%
Only 14% say the size of a firm is a significant or very significant factor in their selection process.
One big change from the 2009 survey: This year 49% rate a chosen firm’s location as significant or very significant, down from the 86% who thought so last year.
• Do you expect government regulation and oversight to increase, decrease, or remain the same?
Remain the same 7.6%
• What areas will require you to work significantly more?
Executive comp 58%
Post #468 – Tuesday, June 1, 2010
The Lost Generation
A palindrome reads the same backwards as forward. This video reads the exact opposite backwards as forward. Not only does it read the opposite, the meaning is the exact opposite.
This is only a 1 minute, 44 second video and it is brilliant! Make sure you read as well as listen . . . forward and back. This is a video that was submitted in a contest by a 20-year old. The contest was titled "u @ 50". This video won second place.
When they showed it, everyone in the room was awe-struck and broke into spontaneous applause. So simple and yet so brilliant. Take a minute and watch.
Watch: Lost Generation
Post #467 – Wednesday, May 26, 2010
My New Slaw Column: Rules of Engagement
Well, I’m pleased to acknowledge that I have been invited to become and am now an official columnist for Slaw – “a cooperative weblog on all things legal.”
Slaw has been publishing for nearly five years now, and in that time has gained 2000 subscribers (RSS and email). I’m told that the site gets 30,000 unique visitors each month and about 100,000 visits every month. It is read principally by visitors in Canada and the U.S., but also enjoys having regular readers all over the world. For the past two years running the site has been the winner of Dennis Kennedy's award as the best legal blog (Dennis is an old friend and perhaps America's foremost law blogger) and has been awarded the 2009 "Clawbie" as Canada's best legal blog. In 2009 Slaw was awarded the Hugh Lawford prize for excellence in legal publishing by the Canadian Association of Law Librarians.
Anyway, I’m scheduled to provide commenting every second month on practice management matters. I invite you to read my first submission entitled: Rules of Engagement.
Post #466 – Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Transitioning Clients To The Next Generation
I’m honored to be doing some strategic work with PKF International and just recently had the pleasure of participating in discussions about how one might pragmatically approach transitioning their clients as they face impending retirement. Laura Sparks (Creative Sparks LLC), a very talented writer, captured these comments in an insightful White Paper (specifically for the PKF firms) that builds nicely upon what we produced in response to a similar question (Handling Boomers Approaching Retirement) of our Managing Partner Leadership Advisory Board (the LAB).
Read the White Paper entitled: Practical Steps For Transitioning Clients
Post #465 – Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The General Counsel of the Future
A note from friends at Egon Zehnder International last week reported upon a survey they conducted of 300 chief legal officers to set criteria that distinguish an excellent general counsel from one who is merely adequate. The authors (Gilbert Forest and Stephen Kelner) maintain that their analysis has implications for boards and CEOs that want to develop top GC succession talent, and for individual legal executives who want to improve their performance.
Their analysis, surprisingly reveals that top GCs do not outrank their peers when it comes to functional expertise. Instead today's top GCs tend to have competencies that even match those of CEOs. The authors postulate that this trend is driven by CEOs seeking GCs who can be effective business partners.
Legal and regulatory knowledge in the company’s area of focus was what distinguished the outstanding general counsel in the past. Today the outstanding GCs have developed their leadership skills to the level of the average CEOs on almost every competency, including team leadership, developing organizational capability and customer impact.
Among the findings: In the future, outstanding GCs will likely strengthen their skills in the two areas where they lag outstanding CEOs: market knowledge, and change leadership. (See my Post #454: The Firm Of The Future – Is All About Change). Over the next decade, the so-called “soft skills” — those that address issues of people and the organization — will play a greater part in the general counsel’s role than they have in the past, because organizations are increasingly diverse, international and collaborative. In fact, they believe that tomorrow's top GCs will increasingly make it to the corner office.
Page << Prev 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 Next >> of 66