How to Be a Leader, Not Just A Manager
If you joined us on the podcast last week, you heard us talk about getting out of the way. We discussed how, as law firm owners, we often get in our team’s way by failing to train them on policies and procedures and not letting go.
This week, we’re diving into this topic a bit deeper. We’re talking about leading people and managing people.
To get anything of significance done in your firm (including writing policies and procedures) and to serve your clients better, you need to leverage your team. You must go beyond managing them and truly lead them.
What does that word “leverage” even mean? Well, it’s the reason we hire people in the first place.
When hiring is done right, you leverage more people to get more things done and, ultimately, provide better services for your clients. You leverage people to give you (the lawyer) more time to spend on higher revenue-generating activities.
This is why mastering the people part of your business is so important. If you don’t, you’ll never get the benefit of leverage. Mastering the people part of your law firm business will be a much bigger silver bullet to your success than any technology or tool.
Shifts to Make to Go From Managing Your Team to Leading It
One of the biggest shifts you can make to go from managing to leading is simply treating your team like adults. Stop double-checking everything they’re doing, hovering over their shoulders, and second-guessing what they’re thinking.
Secondly, a manager counts value while a leader creates value. This means managers double-check, second-guess, and do other things that actually reduce the value of their teams. Leaders do the opposite. They look to add value by focusing on that benefit of leverage and empowering their teams to come up with ideas on their own.
Another shift to make to go from managing to leading is to let your team know the why behind what they’re doing. Explain how what they do every day fits into the big picture of what your law firm does for your clients and community.
Tools for Leading
Many tools can assist you as you’re making these shifts. The first is one-on-one meetings. These are weekly meetings you hold with each of your direct reports. You start a one-on-one meeting by asking, “What’s on your mind?” Your direct reports won’t open up right away but eventually will begin to reveal things that are getting in their way at work.
Give them all the time they need to vent about these things. When it’s time, however, move on to some big picture stuff that’s happening in your firm. Then, transition to coaching. This may look like giving them some feedback and focusing on their growth and goals.
Secondly, if a team member comes to you with a question, instead of jumping in and giving them the answer, say, “Good question. What are your thoughts?” Then just let them talk. If their answers are wrong, gently point them in the right direction by saying something like, “Have you thought about this?”
Finally, remember that constant feedback makes constructive feedback. If you give you a lot of positive feedback throughout the week, after a while your team will get used to hearing feedback from you. Then, you can deliver constructive feedback in a very similar way and it will be received as helpful.
If you want to learn more about being a leader in your law firm, check out Episode 028: Leading People vs Managing People.