The case for conscious leadership
Business leaders are facing unprecedented demands that awaken us to the new dawn of leadership. Technological advancement is outpacing our agility to adapt, global conflict and competition is intensifying, generational shifts in the workplace are challenging conventional organizational culture and emerging attitudes about corporate responsibilities are putting pressure on traditional authoritative and hierarchical leadership. In this article, we discuss what it means to consciously lead your organisation through radical change in these challenging times.
“The signature characteristic of our time is the pace of change. After 13.5 billion years of evolution, change went hypercritical in our lifetime. The world is changing faster than companies can become resilient.”― Gary Hamel, Time for Management 2.0
Business leaders are facing unprecedented demands that awaken us to the new dawn of leadership. The lessons of navigating through intensified global conflict, a period of political volatility in the USA, Europe and beyond and the impact of a global pandemic are still to be fully learnt. However, what has already emerged is that boardroom preoccupation with short-term financial results has been displaced by 360 stakeholder demands for sustainable solutions and impact. More and more leaders are being retained and rewarded for their shift in focus from their own high performance to people-centric, values-led leadership that empower others to learn and grow. And businesses that are succeeding are those that are radically shifting their business models from authoritarian, hierarchical structures to decentralized decision-making to enable greater innovation and creativity.
At Support Legal, we believe in the radical adoption of conscious leadership to break down the barriers to New Law. Through opening pathways to de-centralised decision-making, empowering leaders who challenge the status quo and, creating environments that foster innovation and collaboration, together we welcome the Future of Law.
The case for conscious leadership
A McKinsey Quarterly Report of 2019, identifies 9 core leadership behaviours highly applicable to leading through global challenges. Whilst these include the traditional twin bastions of masculine leadership – individualistic decision-making and control and corrective action – the remaining seven behavioural traits are more commonly associated with feminine leadership like participative decision-making, people development and positive role modeling.
At the core of our model of conscious leadership in New Law, we believe that leading radical change in the legal sector means:
- From competition to collaboration: Rather than chasing to covert leads in an ever-diminishing pool of limited opportunities, it’s time to look up and out into new horizons of growth and potential. Focusing on strengths, alleviating the burden of weakness and filling that void with partners who complement and enhance your areas of excellence. Why carve up one slice when, through collaboration and partnership, you can grow the entire pie?
- From control to influence: The role of your senior leadership team is to set vision and direction for the organization and empower its leaders to create the optimum environment for their teams to fulfil their highest potential. This means devolving decision-making to the right people at the right time and dedicating your energies to supporting and enabling them to execute their long-term strategies. In short, financial targets just don’t cut it anymore. Create meaningful goals that connect strengths to vision and empower and enable your leaders to have sustainable impact.
- From criticism to encouragement: Lawyers are best at identifying issues and creating solutions to the most complex of problems. But this means we chronically suffer from negative reality norm theory; we are drawn naturally to the negative and often treat optimism with excessive caution. And yet we face extinction unless we encourage our people to innovate, ideate and create new ways of delivering legal services. By creating innovative environments within which mistakes are celebrated and experiments rewarded, we shift mindsets from pursuit of perfection to celebration of lesson learnt from mistakes.
- From telling to listening: Traditional lawyers are great at telling clients what they do well and what they can achieve. They are great at offering solutions to issues they have seen before and sharing knowledge of what problems their clients should anticipate and avoid. But the traditional lawyer would rather be a hero than a coach. And yet what clients need more than anything is someone to ask, explore and help them think through their problems; step to their side and navigate with them to create a solution that is fit for purpose. This means less talk and more listening and learning, thinking and reflecting and creating space for clients to make choices that are right for them.
- From demanding to asking: Lawyers are great at getting things done. They strategise, plan, project manage and execute. If things are not going their way, they direct and hussle to get their way. They occupy your space and demand that you listen. And yet, clients often don’t need to be told. They simply want to be asked. Open, powerful questions such as “what do you want?” and “what do you need?”. Leading clients to the right legal solutions becomes less about what you can offer and more about what their problem is, what options are available to address that problem, what success would look like and how we might support and enable that success to become reality.
About Support Legal
We are the Future of Law. We offer a fresh approach to the delivery of legal services with our innovative pricing model, cutting-edge technology and our team of top-tier lawyers, covering multiple legal disciplines.
We are an award-winning New Law practice, operating across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and the Americas.
 McKinsey Quarterly, December 2019 “When women lead, workplaces should listen.”
 The report concludes that it is women who mainly exhibit leadership traits required to lead through global challenges. It is the opinion of the writer, however, that this is not a gender issue, but rather, that every leader has masculine and feminine leadership traits and it is a question of choice when and how a leader chooses to invoke any one of these.
 Of Negative Reality Norm Theory, Carol Painter says: “An accurate picture of reality, according to our society, is considered to be a negative one. Society teaches us that to be positive is to be naive and vulnerable, whereas to be critical is to be informed, buttressed and sophisticated.”