The Bridge - August 2011 - (Page 14)

HOW NOT TO GET A SEAT AT THE TABLE Judy Hissong, Nesso Strategies, LLC I’ve had many conversations recently about administrators being recognized as strategic thinkers, and how they can participate in executive committee meetings, strategic management discussions and decisions in the forward direction of the firm. This topic has more interest as law firms shift into becoming high-focus businesses. There isn’t much market share for the firm that doesn’t operate with some business savvy, and having a legal administrator at the management table is important to the future of the firm – if they are contributing! One complexity in a law firm setting versus a corporate office is the owners (shareholders, partners, members, etc.) are active in day-to-day operations. In a corporation the shareholders show up once a year for a meeting on their stock, and then go away until the same time next year. This complexity adds focus on your interpersonal skills. Communication is a differentiator in any service organization, and is critical to your role as a leader. Communicating across all levels of your firm earns respect and trust of those around you—up and down the food chain. Motivating and inspiring those around you is also a critical component of leadership, and with leadership, trust and respect you have your best opportunity to be a part of the strategic development and direction of the firm. And, if you’re wondering what not to do, well, I’ve got a few things to share: 1. Be the naysayer or the critic. Consistently shoot down the new policies and procedures being rolled out through you. Or even better, speak disparagingly about the decision makers to your staff, or to other managers or colleagues. When you aren’t part of the affirmative decision, be part of the management where you represent it as though you were. If you have a strong reason to disagree with a decision, raise those concerns with the executive committee members behind closed doors. In other words, don’t air your dirty laundry for all to see. 2. Communicate poorly. When you deliver your message, is the audience paying attention to you or are they talking amongst themselves? Have you caught yourself droning on and on – in meetings or email – in front of groups or one on one? People who over explain or ramble are often avoided. Think about your own interest in someone who goes on and on in their explanations or stories – do you stay “with them”? Be clear and concise, especially in your emails. Answer questions directly, and ask questions with succinct clarity. Be careful to respond with clear direction and reread your message before you hit send. 3. Make it all about you. Getting a seat at the table which directs your organization requires you to put the organization first. Bragging about your accomplishments, or talking incessantly about your life doesn’t engender the trust and inclusiveness required of a leader. Taking a seat at the table where forward thinking strategy is discussed requires you to put the organization ahead of you – at least with respect to your conversations and sharing around the office. 4. Backstab co-workers. When you have conflict with someone else confront it head on, tackle the tough conversations with timeliness. Resolving conflict with positive outcome is an important indicator of leadership potential. Think about your own reaction when you hear a friend saying negative things about a mutual friend. Likely you make a note to yourself to be wary of future conversations as you fear you could be a target one day. If you have an issue with someone, bring your courage and integrity forward and demonstrate the personal authority to resolve it efficiently and effectively. 5. Be Teflon. If you apply the concept of nothing sticks to your role in the firm, then you avoid all responsibility for things going wrong. Take the high road of accountability and responsibility rather than pointing a finger of blame elsewhere. Acknowledging your mistakes is an element of being human, and a great way to show you are interested in the success of the firm by taking your role seriously and responsibly. continued on next page 14 Golden Gate Chapter August 2011

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Bridge - August 2011

The Bridge - August 2011
President’s Message
Business Partner Appreciation Reception
A Tribute to Gayley Moore
Leadership and Committee Column: Region 6 Conference Leaders
Food From the Bar Update
Test Yourself
New Opportunities for Chapter Service
How Not to Get a Seat at the Table
2011 Annual Conference Recap—Orlando
Why is the Annual Conference Important?
Annual Conference Update
Member Appreciation Get-Together
CLM Exam Was Not an Overnight Decision
Operations & Technology Section Meeting Announcement
Annual & Regional Conference Announcements
Hot Topics From the List Serve
Member Anniversaries
Salary & Benefit Survey Order Form
2011—2012 Business Partners
Job Bank
Golden Gate Chapter Leadership
August 2011 Calendar

The Bridge - August 2011