Presenting at the Australian Legal Practice Management Association’s event, Bounce Back in 2012 – The Resilient Firm, held yesterday (9 February), the director of The Resilience Institute, Stuart Taylor, told an audience of law firm practice managers how to cultivate and sustain health, positivity and high performance within a law firm.
Referring to the challenges currently faced by the Australian legal industry – such as the recent economic instability and firm consolidation, the intense personal environment of many firms, and the high level of depression and anxiety amongst lawyers – Taylor helped to define resilience and outlined what resilient firms and lawyers look like.
“Resilience: Is it about avoiding the negative or actually pursuing the positive?” asked Taylor, who started his career in the military before becoming an associate director at KPMG Management Consulting and then joining Heinz Food.
“I started my career in the military … then I decided to get a real job, so I joined KPMG for a number of years, which was fantastic,” he said. “There were lots of challenges and opportunities, but I also found that there was a price to pay for that.”
After leaving KPMG for Heinz, Taylor was later diagnosed with brain cancer and received a 2.5 year prognosis. Thankfully, his diagnosis was a decade ago, and Taylor celebrated his 10-year anniversary this month.
“I look back on the last 10 years with so much positivity. Why? Not because of the event, but because of what that adversity allowed me to realise – and that is to wake up to what is important and to make some better choices,” he explained.
A resilient firm, according to Taylor, will attract and retain the best people, respond with agility to turbulent market conditions, bounce back from major organisational setbacks, operate without compromising individual wellbeing, and imbed sustainability into organisational practices.
Pinpointing Nelson Mandela and Li Cunxin as examples, Taylor explained that resilient people are those that thrive on challenges, bounce back from adversity, reach their full potential and have a positive impact on others.
“Resilient people have a strong network of trusted people,” he said, adding that resilient people have great self awareness and empathy.
In light of the high rates of depression and anxiety within the profession, Taylor presented The Resilience Institute’s model for “liberating human potential”, which highlights the many levels within the spiral towards depression – including confusion, disengagement, withdrawal, vulnerability and distress – indicating the key signs that practice managers and leaders within firms must look out for in their efforts to help build a resilient firm.