Just a short post tonight. The Oct/Nov edition of the ABA Law Practice Magazine is so full of good articles I have to recommend the entire issue, cover to cover. Probably the most useful day-to-day piece is the BlackBerry 101 article with tons of features I didn't know about. But the articles about and by women leaders are useful to all firm leaders.
The most thought-provoking for me was "The Leader's Mind-set: Cultivating Success." It is not gender specific. The author, Marcia Pennington Shannon, describes two types of attitudes or mind-sets: the "fixed" mind set and the "growth" mind set. The growth mind-set refers to a person who believes that people can improve their intelligence and abilities by their efforts. The fixed mind-set refers to people who believe that intelligence and abilities and personality are carved in stone. That people arrive with a certain level of intelligence, abilities, talents and character traits that cannot be changed. If you only read one article in this excellent issue, read this one.
It seems to me that firms can also be described as having a "fixed" mind-set or a "growth" mind-set. A firm with a growth mind-set would have a core value of training, mentoring and opportunity for attorneys at all levels. Such firms would recruit for individuals that demonstrate past performance of developing the skills necessary to function at their prior levels in several environments, and then would provide the recruit with opportunities for skill development throughout the course of his or her career. The risk with a firm "growth" mind-set is that it might provide unending opportunities for an attorney who really can't make it to the next level, which is frustrating to all concerned. The "growth" mind-set firm needs to be able to discern when growth is not going to lead to success, and provide a compassionate exit strategy for the attorney involved.
On the other hand, firms with a fixed mind-set would recruit for individuals that display the highest level of skill possible for the position being filled, and would not find it necessary to devote resources to training, mentoring or skill development beyond the basic required continuing legal education required by the state. Thus, entry level attorneys would only be recruited from the top of the class at the best schools; laterals would only be hired from prestigious, selective firms. Attorneys who are determined not to make the cut are culled early.
Where would you rather work?
http://www.abanet.org/lpm/magazine/home.shtml is the link to the LPM site with all of the articles from the Leadership Issue.
See you tomorrow.