Leading teams


Leadership is not just the domain of senior partners.

The legal sector is an increasingly interdependent world where success depends on the ability of team leaders to get everyone moving in the same direction and maximising performance. Team leaders (whether leading a practice area, client teams – or teams working on a specific project) are under pressure to build teams that achieve results. Our work with law firms over many years suggests that there are some common factors that well led teams exhibit.

Building blocks for leading teams

Define the common goal

Whatever the team, it must ultimately be striving to achieve something. To ensure everyone works effectively towards a common goal, it needs to be understood by all. The most successful teams have clarity of vision. They sing from the same hymn sheet and are enthusiastic about the words.

Establish a balanced team

It sounds obvious, but to achieve any objective means getting the right people involved. That doesn’t just mean bringing in the right technical skills, a team also needs the right blend of personalities.

Define each team members’ role

We often see teams where only the leader has a clear view of everyone’s role and individual members aren’t so sure. Teams function better when all members are clear about everyone’s role in the team.

Set an example – build respect

Without mutual respect among team members and for the team leader, it will be a bumpy ride. Team leaders who gain trust tend to display six qualities – integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, dependability, consistency and an interest in the individuals on their team.


Team leaders must be trusting as well as trusted. That means delegating. We often see team leaders attempt to delegate without proper briefing or deciding it’s ‘quicker to do it myself’.

Keep everyone involved

This isn’t just about communication, it’s about making sure everyone feels they have a contribution to make, especially in team meetings.


Good team leaders give guidance where needed. They should also be prepared to accept guidance in return and encourage openness – enabling members to feed back to help the team achieve it’s objectives.


This will involve analysing performance against objective, discussing it with team and defining corrective action.

I have seen many great examples of great teams in law firms. Sadly, it’s not always done well in legal services because of increasing demands and time pressures. Building an effective team is incredibly motivating for all involved and achieves great results.

The most obvious sign of a team working well is that the members actually look forward to meetings. Do yours?


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