Following their annual appraisal process, the Managing Partner of a market leading specialist law practice wanted to ‘lift the bar’ to accelerate the speed at which his firm was growing. Rejecting other more traditional approaches, he decided to introduce coaching as the catalyst for this challenge. As a test case, he offered executive coaching to one of his equity partners with a view to seeing the results and potentially rolling out coaching to all his equity partners.
Lawyers already work too hard, particularly if London centric, so the challenge was to create time to be used for effective, results oriented networking and selling – with the aim of generating a much more rapid growth over time.
Not too many lawyers enjoy the sales process, and in this case, we had to turn a risk averse, desk favouring fee earner into a new business winner.
At the same time, he needed to maintain the ethics and values of the firm.
The development programme
All sessions were confidential and restricted to the specific agenda.
- In a series of three two-hour conversations we analysed various aspects and approaches adopted by the partner as he fulfilled his role. The coach challenged the partner on why he did what he did and encourage him to consider alternatives. The opportunity to review his role, in an uninterrupted and confidential environment, with an experienced business coach was very energising for the partner, resulting in immediate change that began on the morning after the first session.
- A complete review of the tasks undertaken by the partner, the possible re-allocation of responsibilities and the likely impact on the new task holder. Subsequently the client empowered a number of his team members, broadening their responsibilities as a result of these actions and encouraging them to do similarly. The resulting shift of responsibility giving everyone a greater sense of worth and the partner concerned some breathing space.
- A review of the partner’s management style and recognition by him that there were other ways of approaching his daily responsibilities. This led to a list of changes, all of which would either create time or opportunity for himself and his team. His strong sense of responsibility had resulted in him holding on tightly to things that could easily be handled by lower cost personnel.
- A review of the values he believed were important to the overall practice, and himself, resulted in a different emphasis in terms of his attention as a Manager. This sharpening focus leading to decisions over disciplining himself into concentrating upon what really mattered to the development of the practice?
- The development by the partner of a structured ‘networking’ plan that was shared with his senior team with a view to encouraging changes in their behaviours too. Immediate progress was made in relation to meeting some of these potential new business providers.
- Time was spent considering the format and content of these networking meetings, the quality of this partner’s knowledge of what he was selling and how a reciprocal approach could be engineered with the aim of building lasting business relationships from which both parties would benefit. An emphasis being put on listening as a priority in the practice development process.
- The client was also encouraged to read two relevant management books that would help shape his evolving approach to his role
The partner has changed his working practices very significantly. He has: –
- created the space in his working day for a meaningful increase in business development time,
- tackled a number of matters (procrastination) that had been holding the office or himself back
- increased the authority and autonomy of many people in his office
- lifted his expectations of his whole team’s contribution to business development.
- enlarged the network of business partners with whom the practice might work in the future
- broadened local awareness of his practice’s skill base
The decision was taken to extend the programme to all partners, and it was enthusiastically taken up. The firm has grown exponentially.
‘It is rare in our busy lives that one has the opportunity to do nothing but reflect on your business, your role in that business and what steps you can take to improve (your performance). The coaching not only provided that opportunity but helped me achieve more than I would have achieved by myself
My coach is an excellent career coach. He uses his own considerable business experience, and insight into what it takes to run a successful business, in order to fine tune the way you think about yourself, your business and the way in which you can effect positive change in both.’