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How to Assess Legal Leadership, for Yourself and Your Firm

Step one, complete. You are ready to do something! You're also ready to freak out. Being honest with yourself, there are plenty of things you think you need to get better at and a few things you feel strong in but would like to make even bigger strengths. You can make a list of all those things and read a great book about each topic. You can do that, but you shouldn't. You're a lawyer, solve this problem like a lawyer.

You should start with identifying what it is you're trying to do. There are a few common threads to be successful as a leader. For me, those are trust, transparency, and empathy, and I think those are the critical pillars of leadership that should guide your growth. But they're not the be all and end all of what you need now. In fact, those three pillars can be sliced into different components or facets, each offering an opportunity for focus and growth.

Instead of just diving in, take some time to evaluate the role you're in (or will be stepping into) and what it will require of you. Every role will require a different constellation of skills, perspectives, and qualities. You first need to determine that constellation.

One way to do this is to put pen to paper and actually write down the 8-10 most important requirements of your role and then rate yourself in each of them. This is one of the first things I do with my individual clients because it gives us a common set of goals to work toward and a baseline of self-evaluation from which we can evaluate our progress. This should be more than just jotting down the first things that come to mind, and working through this exercise with someone can increase its value. It is important, here, to be both deliberate and honest in your self-evaluation.

You can take this a step further by getting similar ratings/evaluations from those you work with. Often this is an early exercise in vulnerability. It's easy to assume that others will see '360-degree' evaluation requests negatively. In reality, being part of a 360-degree evaluation for someone enhances a colleague's respect for you because it is a demonstration of both confidence and humility. It shows trust in them and respect for their opinions. For you, it ensures that what you see in yourself is being reflected in the world, and a disconnect between how you think you're performing and how your performance is perceived can be an early focus for improvement.

Knowing where you're starting is the first step in creating a plan for growth, and this exercise can help you identify both your destination and where to drop that 'you are here' pin.

You can do this exercise yourself, but if you want help to identify where you are with greater clarity, so that becoming the leader you want and need to be is easier and faster, set up a Legal Leadership Strategy Session. We'll talk about where you're starting, I'll give you some tips about creating your 'leadership constellation,' and we'll find out if BKG Leadership Coaching is the partner for you. For individual clients - typically solo and small/boutique firms - I will typically suggest working together for three months. For mid-sized firms and for those in more complicated circumstances, I typically recommend a six-month relationship, to give us continuity and to ensure you have an opportunity to internalize your growth and see the personal and business results that flow from it.



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