Remember those senior high elections or political parties manifestos, where the potential candidature is luring their audience to elect them as a leader. When talking about any professional position, be in a multinational or a law firm, people often emphasize the talks of being a team player and having a leadership quality.
Usually, people confuse leadership with management. However, there is a difference. While management skills are required to monitor the complexity of the organization and are more internal; leadership is mostly external and is required to control the complexity of the humans responsible for such an organization. In simpler terms, management is the subset where you can manage work, documents, etc. Whereas, leadership is the superset where you can lead people by identifying their goals and channelizing the efforts in the said direction.
We all know the dictionary meaning of leadership but the real question is, how exactly leadership qualities are important for legal practitioners?
Gone are the days when lawyers were known solely for their intellect, oratory skills, nowadays clients spend millions of dollars on a person/organization based on a number of leadership skills:
The indices of strong leadership can be determined by the change in legal set-up
For a very long time, the legal sphere was ruled by men. Shifting back to the pre-independence of India, starting from Motilal Nehru to Mahatma Gandhi, the world was busy admiring the men for their noble work. However, every era demands a fresh change. A good leader is the one that identifies the need in the contemporary scenario and makes an effort to bring the change. One such suggestive change was to introduce women to leadership positions. Resultant, there are many countries, economies, MNCs, and law firms existing today, that are being run by women and are progressing many fold.
The power of human resources
Another most valued leadership quality of a successful attorney is determined by his/her team structure. A good leader would always value humans over monetary consideration because the monetary consideration can vary for each dispute. Once in a while, there might be a situation where the lawyer might find a legal dispute that will offer a decent monetary consideration. However, if an attorney will invest in his/her team and have a group of best advisors, juniors, and associates. The quality of the team will provide an edge over others, will ensure a higher success rate, retention of clients (in civil and commercial suits), and long term monetary benefits.
Healthy work environment
Being a part of the legal fraternity, the most cliché and overrated phrase that I have heard is ‘work-life balance’. As per WHO statistics, India alone contributes to 1/3rd of the global burden of mental health. There is a lot of scholarly research and experiments depict that lawyers are one of the highly stressed beings. A lawyer with good leadership qualities will not understand the importance of a healthy environment but would also emphasize the need for a positive environment for oneself and their clients. While talking about health, the reference is not limited to the physical state but also the mental and emotional state of a being.
The magic is in association
As a lawyer, we have often seen the demarcation in top tier firms, where one department is further divided on the small specialization of a bigger issue. For instance, a commercial dispute is dealt with by a team of corporate structuring, price escalation, strategy, compensation, etc. You name it and each issue is fragmented under multiple aspects. This demarcation is a good example of leadership.
The Harvard Business Review print of Smart collaboration shows indices that clients served by multiple practitioners generate more revenue and cases have proven to achieve more success. Working in a hierarchy and small teams help to assess each other’s’ strength, achievements, weakness, provide continuous feedback, and manage conflict. Hence, attaining balance.
The direction in which you want to carve your practice or want to take your chambers has an impact on your current tools of leadership or vice-versa. Some of these above-mentioned skills and strategies can be used to achieve a fruitful outcome in a longer run.