Here at Nielsen & Geenty, we’re focused on making sure you’re covered when things go bad. That is, of course, the nature of the insurance business. If you’re going to have the confidence to go out and try your best, you need to know someone has your back. Having the right professional liability insurance for your law office is an important part of that, because if you don’t have that confidence, it will end up being a major obstacle to growing your practice.
Beyond that, though, we want to see our clients succeed in all aspects of their law practice. In this article we’re going to look at some lessons from a top executive coach that should help any professional, lawyers not least of all. Marshall Goldsmith works with Fortune 100 executives to get them past sticking points in their careers. These are often people at the pinnacle of success — CEOs of some of the top companies in America. And yet, even they have self-defeating habits that have been reinforced by their past successes, an idea that Goldsmith expresses perfectly in the title of his book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (Writers Of The Round Table Press, 2011).
We can easily imagine the engineer whose meticulous attention to detail makes her a great engineer, but then as a manager that same tendency leads her to micro-manage or prevents her from trusting the work of her team. In the end, she drives her team nuts and is massively inefficient. Executives have their own set of common traits that can lead to problems. Goldsmith outlines twenty habits that tend to cause problems for high-level executives and most of these are hazards for all of us in any kind of work, some particularly so for lawyers.
“The need to win at all costs” tops Goldsmith’s list because it is precisely the need to win and the ability to do so that made these executives so successful. However, their need to win even in relatively trivial matters can also poison their relations with their teams. As an attorney, your success is measured by your track record. Winning matters. And yet, when it comes to managing a team of lawyers and law office employees, the need to win could negatively impact your relations with the team.
Some of the other habits might seem less obviously applicable to a law practice, but in fact most of them are traits we all exhibit to some degree even in our personal lives. They include things like not listening attentively, failing to express gratitude, failing to praise and reward enough and goal obsession at the expense of the larger mission. One of our personal favorites is the “excessive need to be me.” Goldsmith recounts the story of coaching a CEO who was also a top scientist. The scientist had great difficulty praising his employees and thanking them for a job well done. When Goldsmith told him that, based on his surveys of the employees, this was a major problem in the company, the scientist said that he rarely thought the work was truly great and he was not the kind of person who could say that if it wasn’t true. In other words, he couldn’t both be “me” and praise his employees.
Goldsmith takes the reader through a list of twenty such traits and gives ideas for how to recognize them and correct them. Goldsmith is a funny and engaging storyteller, which makes the book a light and easy read while also being useful to anyone looking to step up to the next level in his or her legal career.
Nielsen & Geenty Insurance Services Inc. is a boutique insurance brokerage that specializes in lawyers professional liability insurance. The firm offers legal malpractice insurance, errors and omissions insurance, workers compensation insurance and office package policies.