Sustained success in business development depends on sound leadership and management. More people leave an employer because of management and leadership issues, than because of the fundamentals of their job.
This conclusion is the result of PACE research involving hundreds of fee earners and one to one interviews with managing partners of leading professional firms.
The most successful firms focus on leadership and management at all levels within their organisations and PACE have identified five critical transitions that professionals undertake in their leadership careers:
Stage one: Self-management
Stage two: Leading teams of peers and project teams
Stage three: Leading and managing others
Stage four: Leading those who manage others
Stage five: Leading the firm
Each stage has it specific development requirements. PACE have introduced a simple but highly effective approach to leadership development.
Good leaders have to be good managers. In leading others they need to ensure that the firm (or their part of its business) operates in a disciplined way and meets the organisation’s performance standards. Typically good leaders embrace the responsibility to plan, guide the implementation and measure the results of those plans.
The success of a good plan is dependent firstly on its underlying aim, and then in the quality of how it is communicated and explained. If people are being asked to work towards a common goal, they will seek to understand it before they give their support. This is especially true of professional services firms’ cultures. People in these organisations are very bright and independently minded. They will give support and help an initiative, but only if it is explained to them in a way they understand and feel motivated by.
Very few of us like to be told what to do. If we are to help turn a plan into reality, we will need to be inspired in some way. We are also very busy. The more personal desire there is behind achieving an objective, the greater the chance that people will prioritise things to achieve it. The best leaders develop their personal ability to inspire others. Contrary to some views, such inspiration doesn’t rely on the leader being naturally charismatic. Instead it comes from that person having excellent interpersonal skills to engage individuals.
People believe in and readily support good leaders. They trust them because they are credible individuals who work with integrity and stick to their values in both good and tough times. Good leaders have to be consistent in the way they deal with people and situations. They have to be professional and demonstrate that they too follow the same standards they are asking others to follow.
Leading by example may be an old cliché, but it is fundamental to great leadership and developing the right behaviours in people. If the actions of a leader are in conflict with how they demand others should behave, individuals will follow the leader’s actions and not their words.
Good leaders build great teams. They spend time and energy understanding and then playing to the strengths of the individuals in each team. This doesn’t just mean bringing in the right technical skills, it also requires creating a blend of more broader capabilities, attitudes and mind-sets. Creating the right mix of people isn’t, however, enough. Leaders then have to guide and inspire those individuals to work collectively and effectively to achieve the task at hand. Success comes from how they communicate, manage and reward the team’s efforts. It comes from giving clear direction and motivating individuals to commit and support the team effort. .
The more successful firms take leadership development very seriously. They do not expect leadership skills to miraculously appear once an individual is promoted and instead invest time and energy in helping their people develop great leadership capabilities. Nothing is left to chance. As a result, initiatives are well led and objectives are achieved. Plans are turned into reality as these firms have the right people with the right leadership skills to make them happen.
Managing business development activity
The PACE Pipeline™ is a proven ‘project management’ approach to business development which helps to identify the quantity, quality and focus of activities required to build a profitable stream of future fee income. Successful implementation of the model requires leadership and management. PACE can help leaders to inspire others to carry out the activities required to ensure business development happens.
View the PACE Leadership and Management Health Check by clicking here.