A Time to Think about Leading

Kathy Fortin

March 20, 2020


A Time to Think about Leading

For as long as I have been writing Blog Posts, my purpose has been to bring light to everyday law firm issues. While I have offered a wide variety of topics and tips, management and leadership lie at the heart of running a law firm. No time tests the mettle of a leader or manager more than in times of crisis.

In this Post, I borrow from journalist Sam Walker whose latest Wall Street Journal article illustrates my message today. (Wall Street Journal, March 14-15, 2020, Page B-8). Walker tells us that leaders do not wait for a crisis to lead; they lead in between crises. His article includes this parable:

Two friends are sitting by a river when they spot a child drowning in the water. Both friends immediately dive in and pull the child to safety. But, as soon as they do, another struggling child drifts into view. Then another. Then another. After completing several rescues, one of them climbs out of the water. Where are you going? The other friend asks. I’m going upstream to tackle the guy who’s throwing all these kids in the water. (From Dan Heath’s book “Upstream: the Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen.”)

For law firm owners, I hope this story inspires you to lead your firm to the best of your ability.

In news reports over recent weeks, I have been struck by certain individuals, from mayors to governors to health professionals and others, who have exemplified enviable leadership skills. Perhaps, you have noticed some of the same traits I have seen. In conveying their plans of action, I see that they have:

  1. Detected the issues and understood they have a responsibility to act,
  2. Sought the necessary reliable information that addresses the problems and solutions,
  3. Addressed those issues in a timely manner, knowing that others are relying on them for direction and guidance,
  4. Made decisive, fact-based decisions, and
  5. Communicated clearly, with confidence, honesty, and credibility.

Remember that your leadership is in place every day and it’s in the small, ordinary ways that leaders will mainly be judged. In this strange time we are all navigating through, we will all learn important lessons. Perhaps, becoming aware of your own leadership skills will become one of those lessons and what you can do to lead like the best of them.