Recently I was able to make time to sneak into one of the Academy’s Peak Performer sessions where I observed about 15 Academy Members playing at the top of their game.
Long story, short: Mind. Blown.
These attorneys are ROCK STARS! I happened to crash the “Law Firm Culture” segment of the discussion. When you share with like-minded professionals and you find a way to be completely open and vulnerable about what’s working and not working in your firm, you can’t help but win. Guess who else wins? The team back home. The clients back home.
When you brainstorm in a group like this it becomes clear how you lead (or don’t lead?) people, how you set goals and do or don’t track the results, and what it will take for you to hold yourself accountable and reach for the stars. It’s absolutely humbling to be in the presence of these entrepreneurs who are committed to making a difference to their community, and also completely committed to contributing to their teams.
During the conversation, one Member mentioned that they just had a law firm retreat. In preparation for that team event, the law firm staff took time to write down and submit something they each appreciated about each person in the firm. Those notes of appreciation were then put into a slideshow with photos of the team members and the entire presentation was shared with the firm’s Facebook connections. Watch these couple of minutes and tell me it isn’t inspiring! It was a total game changer. I can’t wait to borrow the idea for our Academy team retreat at the end of the year.
Continuing the conversation about leadership, another attorney admitted when asking WHY team members worked at that firm, the answer, universally, was, “Because of you. We’d follow you anywhere.” This reminded me of Colin Powell’s definition of leadership – which is built on trust. Powell states, “You’ll know you’re a good leader when people follow you anywhere, if only out of curiosity” (check out the full 2-minute video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocSw1m30UBI).
Another Member recognized having a team member on board who is bringing down the entire remaining team. There have been many chances and coaching offered and there’s still no promise that the contribution could ever outweigh the drain. After having the opportunity to discuss this with other Peak Performers, this Member realized it’s time to let this person find something that will make him happy somewhere else while at the same time giving the law firm a chance find a better fit.
The importance of finding someone with a mindset and reason WHY they come to work every day that lines up with the law firm’s WHY cannot be stressed enough. It’s not that one bad apple is one bad apple. Rather, one bad apple will eventually spoil the entire basket. Leadership is about protecting your A players so you can take even better care of more clients.
We provided these Members a list of 40 statements surrounding their company culture. They were given the opportunity to grade themselves, using these statements, based on what they were doing for and with their teams. Then they had a chance to talk about the top 20, 27, 32 of the 40 statements that indicated things they are happy with, and doing great with in the firm… and identify the remaining challenges brought to light by the list that allowed them to figure out how to create a stronger relationship with and between team members.
Recognizing that the biggest asset in the firm is the team providing the services to clients inspired these law firm owners to list out some fun ideas to make sure their team stays engaged, passionate and committed.
I cannot emphasize enough, if you’re in a geographic location where the Academy could use a Member — you really do owe it to yourself to come to a Boot Camp and experience some of these discussions. Change your perspective, or things get stale, right?
Chief Operating Officer
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128