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Making it as a manager: the do's and don'ts of successful leadership

Making it as a manager: the do's and don'ts of successful leadership

Lawyers facing their first venture into management need to network to learn the dos and don'ts of successful leadership. Briana Everett reports

Lawyers facing their first venture into management need to network to learn the dos and don'ts of successful leadership. Briana Everett reports

Providing ongoing management training is critical in developing good leadership skills in law firms

While becoming a leader within an organisation is a significant step up in an individual's career, many managers admit they were not ready to take on the challenges that management brings.

According to a CareerBuilder survey, more than one quarter of managers claimed they were not ready to lead when they began managing a team and 58 per cent said they never received management training.

The biggest challenge that managers face, according to the survey, is dealing with issues between co-workers, while motivating team members, conducting performance reviews, finding the resources needed to support a team and creating career paths for team members were also listed as some of the top challenges.

Recognising the challenges that lawyers face when it comes to entering management positions, law firms have finally recognised the need to provide ongoing management training for the development of good leadership skills across the firm.

"It's tough being a leader and lawyers who are new to management roles generally find their time initially very challenging. They have never been equipped or taught the skills to be a good manager and lead the team," says Warrick McLean, general manager at Coleman Greig Lawyers and president of the Australian Legal Practice Management Association.

Aside from the need for firms to train and support lawyers at all levels, what's most important, according to McLean, is the ongoing training and development of those partners being groomed for leadership roles or those currently in leadership positions.

"It's tough being a leader and lawyers who are new to management roles generally find their time initially very challenging"

Warrick McLean, general manager at Coleman Greig Lawyers and president of the Australian Legal Practice Management Association

For lawyers hoping to position themselves for a management role and to be a successful leader, McLean suggests networking with their peers in other firms to understand what constitutes best practice.

"Speak to staff who have come from other firms and ask them what their previous firm did well," he says.

"Liaise and network with other professionals in similar roles ... the industry is small but people are happy to talk - at times very candidly about the challenges or opportunities they face."

McLean adds that the way in which lawyers are trained is to critique and measure risk. However, to be a good manager, lawyers need to be, at times, creative and take risks.

"Work with good people around you who are always adding value to the firm. Continuous improvement is key in a sustainable business," he says.

"Lawyers need to focus on leading by example and focus on developing their interpersonal skills and people management skills."

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