The start of 2021 hasn’t been the miraculous return to normal or dramatic improvement we’d all hoped for, but I’m still grateful for many things—including my oldest godchild delivering a healthy baby boy on January 1 and my team, the Crimson Tide, defeating Ohio State and setting a record for the most college football national championships of the modern era. I’m holding on to those happy occasions as good omens for a year that will continue to improve.
I know many of you are sick of Alabama and Nick Saban’s football dynasty. But as I’ve been talking to law firm clients and partners during the first few weeks of 2021, Saban’s words of wisdom hold some great lessons for staying focused on the process, creating a culture of accountability, cultivating resilience, overcoming fear, looking forward and doing your very best in every task and every moment.
- “Emphasize to every person that the actions he takes, both positive and negative, have an effect on everyone.” Lack of trust in our colleagues inhibits collaboration and teamwork in law firms. Clearly defining and communicating client expectations and preferences to everyone reduces client disappointments and creates consistency of service delivery.
- “I’m just happy we won tonight. And I really haven’t thought about [setting a record] because you’re always looking forward.” Law firms spend too much time looking backwards and at their peers. Today clients praise outside advisors who are future focused and constantly helping them proactively identify potential obstacles and opportunities.
- “Don’t think about winning the SEC Championship. Don’t think about the national championship. Think about what you needed to do in this drill, on this play, in this moment. That’s the process: Let’s think about what we can do today, the task at hand.” Successful business developers recognize that cultivating relationships is an investment of time and energy that can sometimes take years. The lawyers who create habits and routines that prioritize business development and client experience as part of their daily work process are positioned to be top of mind when clients and prospects have a need.
- “Be on time. It shows you care.” When we ask clients why they favor one attorney or firm over another it almost always comes down to the little things. Being respectful of time contracts, being accessible and running better meetings are simple ways to demonstrate you value them and their time.
- “The biggest obstacle to change is fear. Fear of the unknown.” Last year we all faced the unknown and as a result became more resilient. We learned a lot more about how to get comfortable being uncomfortable and how to focus on the do, not the dread.