Fall is nearly here and it's a great time to re-visit your leadership and make needed changes or improvements. Your firm's success - and yours - is dependent on you doing the following five things well, whether you lead your firm, business unit or team.
- Envision the Future. Whether you create a new vision, inherit a vision from your predecessor or simply adopt the vision of higher level leadership, you must envision the future. Successful firms learn from the past, act in the present and plan for the future. Undoubtedly people in your firm advocate for each of these time perspectives, but it's the unique role of leadership to envision the future and bring it into reality with strategic planning and implementation. Your firm will excel when everyone is informed and motivated by a shared vision. Communicating the vision is one of your most important leadership roles.
- Model the Vision. It's critically important that you align your behavior with your vision. Values are an integral part of your firm's vision and culture. I encourage you to identify, rather than simply assume, those shared values. Assumed values are frequently at the heart of conflict, while identified values can be used to guide behavior - your own and others'. Provide consistent direction and inspiration to those around you by clearly articulating and modeling the vision. Effective leaders embody the vision.
- Provide Structure. You and your leadership team must provide structure, support and relative security, so that others in the firm can focus on doing their jobs well. Effective structure ensures, to the degree possible, financial strength and longevity. It expands the opportunity for creative thinking and problem-solving by minimizing chaos, uncertainty and unnecessary redundancy. Appropriate structure provides quality control, further supporting the firm's strength and stability.
- Hire and Develop Talent. Hire the best. That doesn't necessarily mean hire the smartest, though it might. It means hire for fit. Hire people who share your culture and values and have the skills, knowledge and talent required to do the job. Hiring for fit requires aligning your firm's recruiting and hiring efforts with your culture and values. It requires behavioral questioning and careful listening during the interview process, rather than heavy, even singular, reliance on GPA and class standing. Bring out the best. You have the opportunity and responsibility to continuously develop talent with purposeful, thoughtful delegation, coaching and training. Doing so ensures the present and future engagement and capabilities of your firm's talent. Purposefully hiring and developing talent is the key to your firm's success and longevity.
- Offer Guidance. As a leader, you have the opportunity and obligation to mentor members of your team on an ongoing or as-needed basis. Depending on the size of your firm, you might mentor all members of your firm or just senior members. Though all senior members of your firm might not be suited to mentor junior members, they should be required to contribute in some way to the development of upcoming firm talent. Everyone in your firm needs and deserves the ear of someone from whom they can seek guidance regularly or as needed.
These leadership practices, when consistently aligned with your firm's culture and values, create a culture of success and a platform for individual and collective greatness.