Leading Your Law Firm:
Want to build a successful law firm? Get to know yourself. (Part 2)
Last week, I wrote about self-awareness as an essential trait of effective leadership. And I’m guessing that some folks may be thinking, “That’s nice, but what does this have to do with my law practice?” The answer is quite a bit. In fact, self-awareness is a key component of the skill set that is most determinative of long-term business success, according to research conducted by the Stanford Research Institute International and Carnegie Mellon Foundation with Fortune 500 CEOs from around the world. The Stanford study found that 75 percent of long-term success in business depends upon leadership (people) skills.
Moreover, academic research has shown that people with high emotional intelligence are more successful in business and in life. “Emotional Intelligence,” as defined by Daniel Goleman in his book of the same name, is “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.” Emotional intelligence consists of four fundamental capabilities: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skill.
According to Goleman, self-awareness consists of:
- Emotional Self-Awareness: the ability to read and understand your emotions as well as recognize their impact on work performance, relationships, and the like.
- Accurate self-assessment: a realistic evaluation of your strengths and limitations.
- Self-confidence: a strong and positive sense of self-worth.
- From Leadership That Gets Results, by Daniel Goleman
Harvard Business Review, March-April, 2000
So, how can you gain the type of self-awareness Goleman speaks about? One route to dramatically increased self-awareness is through the DISC Behavioral Style Assessment (DISC). DISC is based on a theory of behavior that says we all operate across four dimensions of behavior with differing levels of intensity in each dimension. DISC is an acronym that represents the four different dimensions of normal behavior, which are:
D – how you respond to problems and challenges.
I – how you influence others to your point of view.
S – how you respond to the pace of the environment.
C – how you respond to rules and procedures set by others.
DISC increases self-awareness because it allows you to see yourself as other see you. As the saying goes, “Perception is reality.” So, how you are perceived has a tremendous impact on your ability to influence and lead others. By understanding your own behavioral style and appreciating the behavioral style of others you can increase your effectiveness, improve your communication – both in the workplace and in in your personal life, and enhance the quality of all of your relationships.
Understanding, Cooperation, Communication
In addition to increasing self-awareness, DISC can enhance understanding, cooperation and communication. We like to work with people that we “know, like, and trust.” And we tend to know, like and trust people to who we think are like us. The DISC helps us understand others – how they prefer to communicate, what motivates them, and what they don’t like. When law firms utilize the DISC with all members of the team understanding and cooperation grows.
Resolving and Preventing Conflict.
The DISC is also an excellent conflict management tool. Understanding and appreciating different behavioral styles is the first step in resolving and preventing conflict. The DISC will provide insight into how your team members can be most effective, and it will help them understand each other on a whole new level.
Building Your Championship Team.
Top law firms use the DISC as part of their recruitment and hiring process by understanding the position and using the DISC as one component to help identify the right person for the job. Guessing at what people do best and what motivates them is simply “shot in the dark management.” It doesn’t work in the 21st Century.
Click here to download a sample DISC assessment from Nora’s website.