Posted by: johnocunningham | April 20, 2015

Communication: Good Questions Pave the Way for Better Leadership

Some law firms have been improving their management and leadership skills by bringing guest lecturers or tutors in to speak with practice group leaders and other key partners. Some have even enrolled their leaders and future leaders in executive training courses to improve their leadership skills. But others still languish, assuming that leadership is more of a mantle and title than a skill which must be cultivated and learned.

But as every prized corporate client of every law firm knows, leadership and management skills do not come from “pedigree” or billing records. They involve focused efforts, serious communications and training that must be directed by organizational leaders. I have not seen any short publications or guides on the subject of how law firms can develop their leaders, but now Eric Seeger of Altman Weil, a reputable firm that provides management consulting services for legal organizations, has published a good and very brief piece about practice group leadership and communication. It is entitled “For Managing Partners: A Questionnaire for Your Practice Leaders.

While this leadership “starter kit” is clearly not intended to be an comprehensive program for improving management and leadership communication, it does pose a series of excellent power questions for engaging leaders in serious thought about what their objectives are and how they can accomplish them. If a firm’s leadership is struggling with “where to begin” on leadership discussions, I would recommend reading this piece.

There are plenty of other more in-depth resources out there for improving leadership and management skills, but it is most important to take that first step toward better management by simply developing conscious discussion and communication about organizational goals, strategies and use of resources. The framing of good questions, a lawyerly skill, can be put to good use in sharpening organizational communication and focus in productive ways.

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