LMA Mid-Atlantic Region Conference Keynote: A Conversation About Leadership, Collaboration and Teams

Darryl Cross headshot_NovDec18.jpgThe future of performance depends on the successful fusion of training, technology and teams. Darryl Cross of LawVision delivered the keynote address at the LMA Mid-Atlantic Region Conference and spoke about how legal marketers can lead, innovate and collaborate to maximize their firms’ future performance.

The theme of Darryl’s keynote was how we can learn from those in leadership positions outside of law. Darryl shared leadership techniques from proprietary research conducted with NASA, Navy SEALS, professional athletes, emergency room physicians and the first female D.C. Chief of Police, and he translated those learnings to the legal industry.

The conversation about leadership is about the importance of collaboration and teams, focusing on activities that have important consequences, and developing your people to unleash their potential and produce results. We are way past the point of individuals working harder or smarter. We are moving to a culture of collaboration and teams led by legal marketing professionals. Colleagues who do not believe in this approach do not realize they already rely on it. For example, client work may depend on collaboration between the relationship partner, associates, paralegals, secretaries, copy center and finance department. However, collaborating with peers may seem to be a challenge. Think of what we could do if we proactively collaborated with peers to get the best results for our clients, instead of insisting we do things on our own?

If you want to be a leader, you must be able to address the three elephants in the room – culture, compensation and trust. These are the reasons that people usually give to explain why they cannot do something at their firm. People tend to blame compensation for how things are done and try to fix it first, but that is not the problem. Compensation is a reflection of a firm’s culture, and how that culture is based on trust. Trust is the number one thing we need to fix; it will change the culture to one of collaboration, and then we can reward activities that demonstrate trust. The way to build trust is through time, demonstration of competencies and confidence. There is no shortcut to get around the time it takes to build trust; we need to create more opportunities to work together, and compensation is ultimately a way of rewarding collaboration after trust and confidence are established.

LMA Mid-Atlantic Region Conference Keynote.jpgCreating time, competencies and confidence is sometimes a chicken and egg problem. We cannot trust without doing the work collaboratively, but the risk of mistakes and bad outcomes are too high to allow people to become comfortable with collaboration. Looking to how high-stakes professionals such as astronauts, pilots, and surgeons are trained, we find the answer: use simulations, competitions and a mix of training. By practicing difficult situations and giving your team the opportunity to get to know each other, you build trust and you create a collaborative culture that is reflected in your compensation. Astronauts and Navy SEALs train together, get to know each other as a team and have opportunities to work together, which results in trust.

The future of performance is dependent on the successful fusion of training, technology and teams. Trainings are simulations based on the actual work we do. Practice situations should be challenging and cumulative. In business development, we can use technology that includes predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to forecast the future. We can get a head start by rehearsing and preparing for projects, and teams can assemble information in innovative ways for client projects.

As legal marketers, we have the chance to be leaders of these teams. This does not necessarily mean we run our practice group or initiatives, but there are moments in the day we can offer our leadership in small increments. Through our expertise and knowledge we can put people and ideas together. Leadership happens in moments, not because of titles, so seize them. Be the bridge between teams and people that places you in a valuable position for your firm.

Darryl has been an LMA member for 20 years and has held a number of leadership positions. He currently sits on the LMA International Board of Directors and formerly sat on Board of Directors of the then Virginias Chapter. 

For more about leadership, collaboration and teams, listen to Darryl’s video “Becoming a Leader in the Modern Law Firm” and read his “Teams and Alignment: The Service-Based Leader” article in the May/June 2017 issue of Strategies+.

By Helena M. Lawrence, Senior Marketing Manager, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, for the Fourth Quarter 2018 LMA Mid-Atlantic Region Newsletter

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