Leadership Skills for All Young Lawyers

You know that I talk a lot about leadership skills throughout the various platforms within the Best Friends at the Bar project. Developing positive leadership skills is critically important for young lawyers who hope to ascend the professional ladder of success. And that ascension is not limited to partnership in a law firm. There are many different ladders of success within the profession of law — just as there are many legal practice settings to choose from.

But there is really only one set of leadership skills. No matter who you talk to, you will hear the same fundamental skill set repeated over and over again. Below is the way those skills are described in a recent Above the Law article (in my words with a few editorial comments):

  • Encourage and inspire others — As a leader, it is important to be a motivating force for those around you. It starts with being positive about your work and communicating that to others. When your team feels that positivity, you are more likely to achieve success;
  • Listen carefully and respond thoughtfully — To lead a team effectively, you must be aware of the needs and concerns of the members of the team. To demonstrate that awareness, you need to listen carefully to people’s concerns and show them that you sincerely value their input. The combination of seeing both sides of an issue and seeking common ground are essential in a strong leader;
  • Be decisive — A strong leader needs to make decisions quickly and confidently. As a general rule, there is no room for second guessing. But there are bound to be exceptions, and you must remain flexible to allow for those exceptions. You need to be able to change your mind without letting your ego get in the way;
  • Be open to new ideas — Whatever your level of experience and practice, you always can learn and grow. Your team will respect you for understanding that; and
  • Be willing to take risks — Risk taking as a leader can present itself in terms of changing the approach to a problem or giving team members the autonomy they need to develop their own skills. If this delicate balance is achieved, it will benefit your team by creating a dynamic and innovative work environment.

Good luck in becoming effective and impressive leaders.

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