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Law Firm Management: Four Universal Qualities Of An Effective Manager

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Qualities of an Effective ManagerLaw Firm Management: Four Universal Qualities Of An Effective Manager

Management is not for the faint of heart. Please note we are not talking leadership – a leader can be anyone on the team – we are talking about being an effective manager. A manager plans, leads, organizes and controls. A manager is someone who knows how to coach a team, correct them, motivate them to get things done and keeps them fighting the good fight forward. It would be silly to assume that effectively managing a team of lawyers would be easy. It is harder. Managing lawyers is a challenge regardless of how skilled or experienced the lawyers are. Many may argue that managing a team of highly educated individuals is the hardest of all (yes, they can all do your job). This is why every manager needs to be armed with some basic tools for being effective. An effective manager knows how to defend his or her team, but they also know how to correct the team when they err. Here are four universal qualities of the most effective managers.

  1. Communicate with clarity. The most effective managers are clear about their expectations of others and the team as a whole. They can communicate plainly and in a way that paints a detailed picture of the desired goal or outcomes. An effective manager also knows that while emails can state the expectations, they don’t always communicate them clearly; face-to-face meetings or quick huddles can be even more efficient on time and effective with the message to make sure everyone involved understands what is needed of them to perform well.
  2. Be a clear example.  Practice what you preach. The best managers are rarely hypocritical and they live what they preach to others. An effective manager serves as the example of ethicality, right and wrong, clarity and transparency.
  3. Be a team player. Managers are not “coaches” who sit on the sidelines while everyone else is doing the work. The best managers work with their lawyers to reach a goal. In other words, they are down in the trenches and doing the heavy lifting required to get the job done.
  4. Respect the individuals. There is no cookie-cutter way of managing people. You have to consider the individual personalities and needs of your attorneys. Once you understand your team, adapt your actions to their needs so that you can get the best results you want.

If you’re managing a team of lawyers (or anyone for that matter), investing in your skills as a manager will pay off in the long-term. Oh, and don’t micromanage, we all hate that. Subscribe to the Leopard Blog for discussions on management, diversity, law firm insights, and other relevant topics.

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