Coaching helps build engagement, improves performance and leads to higher retention. So there is a clear case for it to be embedded in leadership culture in the legal sector.
Why every leader needs coaching in their skillset
We know that coaching is a valuable leadership skill, yet in law firms it’s not at the top of the agenda to create a leadership culture that empowers a coaching style. Understood as a nice idea, an optional extra perhaps, in some firms the power of coaching as a leadership style is yet to be fully appreciated. And utilised.
“Organisations with senior leaders who coach effectively and frequently, improve their business results by 21% as compared to those who never coach.” – Bersin by Deloitte.
The skill of a successful leader is in knowing how and when to utilise different leadership styles – coaching should not eclipse the others. But there is growing evidence that it should be at the forefront of business ethos and in the skillset of every purpose-driven leader.
A Harvard Business Review report defined coaching as “a style of management primarily characterised by asking employees questions that help them fulfil their immediate responsibilities more effectively and advance their development as professionals over time.” So as a leader in the legal sector do you feel you have the skills to support your employees in this way?
Why coaching is different from other leadership styles
The coaching leadership style is different because of its focus on investing in the long-term. Too often neglected in favour of short-term results and seemingly quick-fix alternatives, some organisations are missing a trick.
Well trained coaching leaders can bridge the gap between the harsher, results driven pace setting style and the nurturing, long-term style of visionary leadership, to get real results. It empowers leaders to ask difficult questions, lead with purpose and bring about change.
Coaching leadership works with both talented, skilled and willing employees, as well as those who may be lacking motivation or skills. The leader can tailor their coaching to suit the needs of the individual and help them grow to meet the goals of the wider organisation.
While coaching requires a greater investment of time, its holistic, developmental approach leads to consistent results across an organisation and loyal, focused, harmonious and productive teams.
And what of ROI? According to one study, 86% of companies rate their ROI favourably for their investment in coaching, stating that the investment at least paid for itself. Coaching leadership is also proven to improve rates of retention and absenteeism.
So why then, is coaching underestimated by the legal sector?
Few understand the leadership challenges of law firms more than Richard Macklin. Former Global Vice Chair and Global Client Partner at Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, he is a leading authority on law firm strategy and market positioning.
When we sat down with him to get his perspective on the future of law firm leadership, he explained that part of the reason lawyers underestimate leadership is that they value technical excellence over other skills. For them, it’s often all about knowing the minutiae. They are brilliant at spotting opportunities in the detail that can swing a trial, but they don’t tend to notice larger opportunities in the market.
“Lawyers have difficulty believing that technical excellence is not a differentiator,” says Richard. “Granted you do have the magic circle, the silver circle, and so on. But within each peer group, technical excellence is actually a commodity because every firm has it.”
So if technical excellence is not your product, what is? “It’s your delivery,” Richard says. “The way you respond to what a client wants and needs. They’ll assume you have a great product because if you don’t, you’ll get sued for it anyway. What they care about is how you’re going to partner with them.”
Since investment in coaching leadership style can have such a lasting and sizeable human and business impact, every law firm should offer coaching in their skillset. At TPC Leadership we are aiming to partner with lawyers to share the value of leadership.
Click here to learn more about our upcoming course, Leading Clients, Leading People, that is specifically aimed at training junior partners and senior associates in the legal sector.
This programme is being co-delivered with PSFI, one of the largest and most experienced teams of specialist practitioners in the professional service firms market.
For more information on training leaders in your organisation to adopt and instil a coaching culture, contact TPC’s experts.