An Empowered Leadership Guide by Matthew Arrowsmith-Brown
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To uncover your leadership team's strengths and growth areas across Leading Self, Leading Others, Leading Results, and Leading Change, access the scorecard here.
As a former partner in a large regional law firm and current business coach, I've seen the corporate management structure evolve. Although tailored for larger firms, the empowered leadership principles shared here are applicable to all firms. I spent a majority of my career as a partner, not necessarily seeing myself as a leader. Yet, I realize the importance of leadership in the growth and profitability of a firm, especially in today's competitive business environment.
About the Author
Matthew Arrowsmith-Brown is a certified Time to Think coach, accredited by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council. With a career spanning 30 years, he began as a solicitor in London before moving to Norwich and becoming a partner in Mills & Reeve for 25 years. His experience in general private tax planning, trust and property work, and advising farming family businesses has shaped his perspective on leadership.
Today's commercial environment is harsher than ever. Partners must regard themselves as leaders of the business and act accordingly. This does not mean resorting to the anarchy of my early partner days. Rather, it involves being engaged and feeling accountable for the decisions of the executive board, while making their views clear when disagreeing with board policies.
What is Empowered Leadership?
Leadership is often misunderstood. James Scouller's book, "Three Levels of Leadership" (2016), provides a clear definition, outlining four dimensions of leadership: Setting a motivating purpose; Paying attention to the progress of the tasks involved; Upholding group unity; and Paying attention to individual effectiveness. A leader may not personally handle all these aspects, but they must ensure that they are addressed.
1. Set a Motivating Purpose
The first leadership activity is to set a motivating purpose. This involves not only contributing to the firm's overall vision and purpose but also ensuring that there is a clear statement of purpose for your own practice area. Furthermore, your daily behaviour must be consistent with and further the purpose.
2. Progress of the Tasks Involved
The next task involves keeping track of progress in various activities. This requires balancing macro-level tasks, such as decisions made by the board, with micro-level tasks like ensuring that your team's contribution to the core business is carried out effectively.
3. Upholding Group Unity
Upholding group unity is another crucial aspect of leadership. This involves maintaining team unity and morale, as well as contributing to group unity at a macro level. This requires aligning your actions with the firm's vision and values, and addressing any deviations from these principles.
4. Focusing On Individual Effectiveness
The final aspect of leadership is focusing on individual effectiveness. This involves providing regular feedback, discussing personal career aspirations, and behaving authentically in alignment with both personal and firm values.
While various factors may hinder partners from assuming leadership roles, being a leader in a law firm is not rocket science. It involves simple actions stemming from a sense of personal responsibility for the entire business and the people involved in it. Firms that empower their partners to take these actions are the ones that will flourish in the next decade.
Do you want to uncover your leadership team's strengths and growth areas across James Scouller's Four Dimensions of Leadership model?
Shaped around James Scouller's Four Dimensions of Leadership model, you will receive valuable and actionable insights. Leverage these findings to pinpoint areas for improvement and strengthen your team's leadership capability.