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What does it take to succeed and build your authority in the Transformative Age?
The nature of the legal work is evolving fast, new generations are now dominating the workforce and we’re all being asked to adopt new behaviors — to be more innovative, more agile, more collaborative, more everything.
The legal practice is anything but usual. And building your authority and navigating the Transformative Age demands we ask better questions at each point in time, from strategy to execution.
One of the main questions – each one of us should ask – is “becoming a trusted advisor” fundamental for building your authority position? Or maybe we need more than that.
“Become a Trusted Advisor”?
You and me have heard this recommendation and advice echo throughout the legal profession for quite a long time.
Many of the leading firms still use this slogan to brand themselves.
But actually, there are at last three problems with this advice:
Problem #1: We already ARE…
Most of us as lawyers already believe that we are already trusted advisors to our clients. It is one of the fundamental elements of practicing our profession.
Do you agree?
I believe that we all have earned and maintain our clients trust in the areas of confidentiality and competency. Thus, we are already trusted advisors.
[or at least most us, who properly practice our distinguished profession].
Problem #2: We already “checked the box”
If you agree, that we are already trusted advisors, where is the challenge?
In other words, we mentally “checked-the-box”, since this goal is already achieved and no further action need to be taken.
Problem #3: We are already Passive
Actually this problem is a direct result of problem #2 – we become more passive, since no action need to be taken to become a ‘a trusted advisor’.
But as you know from my previous articles, that to build your authority in the market place you need to be active.
This brings me to only one conclusion –
Though passive trust is critical to authority building in the legal environment, this is more related to “transactional Authority”.
For “Transformational Authority” – the one I want you to learn to build, active trust is needed.
I dearly believe that each one of you, my dear reader, as a lawyer is perfectly positioned to become a transformational authority, and our legal market desperately need lawyers to build their authority and stand out but focusing more on building active trust.
So, I created a list of 8 actions you need to take (or may need to stop doing) to equip lawyers, like yourself, to build active trust, become a transformative authority and Stand Out!
ACTION #1: WALK THE TALK
As the idiom – “Action speaks louder than words”.
In other words, what you do is more important than what you say, because the things you do show your true intentions and feelings.
I know what you thinking –
I am already doing that, I already showing my clients I deserve their trust.
Really? Are you? How?
Because you wrote on your firm website that you are a “trusted advisor”? Or maybe you communicate regularly on social media how awesome you and your practice are?
Sorry, but these alone aren’t goanna to build your transformational authority.
You need to show that you are, don’t tell.
You need to show your expertise on a regular basis, in everything you are doing; in any project you are involved, in any business development activity, constantly and consistently. This is how you build active trust.
And when you do, do it better than anyone else!
ACTION #2: SPEAK UP & GET ENGAGED
You need to be involved and engaged in conversations offline and online.
But are you one of these lawyers that have something to say but are afraid to speak up?
Maybe that will help you –
To be involved in a conversation does not mean you need to be the most knowledge lawyer on a specific subject or that you have all the answers.
You do have to be willing to:
Ask relevant and uncomfortable questions
Talk openly and authentically
Express your views.
Talk about important changes in the area of expertise
This is the way you transact active trust and your target audience will begin to see you as a transformational authority on industry-related topics.
ACTION #3: ATTRACT LIKE MINDED
What do you answer when people ask you – “what do you do?”
If it starts off with “I am a _____ lawyer…” – you walking further away from building active rust with your tribe.
To attract like-minded people – it is much more interesting to share your vision as a lawyer.
But do you know yours?
I want blame you if you don’t or if you never got to think about the answer to this question. Many lawyers don’t!
To find your answer - ask yourself the following questions:
In your area of expertise - what do you stand for?
What are you determined to bring and transform in your legal field?
Do you stand for something in your legal field that the rest of your industry doesn’t?
Once you’ve found your answers, commit to them and you’re further on your way to becoming a transformational authority with the support of active trust.
ACTION #4: BE AN EFFECTIVE LEADER
Effective leader - sound like a slogan isn’t it?
What I mean is that focusing on and maintaining your status quo will not get you to be an effective leader.
As an effective leader, you need to do everything that it takes to ensure growth and profitability in the future.
Only then, you strengthen your transformational authority position in the market place.
ACTION #5: KEEP ON LEARNING
I am not trying to encourage you to get another degree or to go back to school. This is not what will make you into a transformational authority.
I refer to the process of keep educating yourself on relevant and trending legal topics in your field and staying up-to-date and current with whatever is happening in your industry.
Another way is to keep learning what the movers and shakers are doing in your legal industry. Then study up on what the not so successful have been doing so you know what to avoid.
Finally, I will suggest that to build your transformational authority you need to educate yourself also on the success stories coming out of other industries. You can then examine and see if they apply to your legal expertise. You never know.
All these action together will impose your transformational authority position in the market and specifically with your target group.
But are you willing to sacrify your time to keep learning? Now, you understand why not many lawyers are building their authority position.
ACTION #6: BE CANDID & OPEN I have always been a huge proponent of candor, also in my time as an employee and a leader in different organizations.
In fact, only after I met and spent time with Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, I realized the rarity of candor in leadership and in building your authority position within an industry.
Lack of candor basically blocks smart ideas, fast action, and good people contributing all the stuff they’ve got.
In a short article written in 2005 (!) by Lisa Vollmer, in the Stanford Business Review, the author summarize Jack Welch’s strategy how to create candor in the work place. According to Jack Welch, companies that develop extraordinary products and services do more than gain market share — they represent the very foundation of society.
“I would call lack of candor the biggest dirty little secret in business. What a huge problem it is. Lack of candor basically blocks smart ideas, fast action, and good people contributing all the stuff they’ve got. It’s a killer.” — Jack Welch
Transformational Authority is no more than using Candor to communicate with others in a respectful, efficient, and impactful way.
Being candid and open helps you solidify your status of knowledgeable authority and lets people know you’re the real deal.
It’s real conversations. It is a very important component for the growth of you as a lawyer, and unfortunately nowadays it is the biggest obstacle in the growth of many lawyers in the market.
I really believe that candor is one of the critical behaviors that determine the effectiveness of lawyers and their ability to build an authentic and impactful transformational authority.
ACTION #7: HAVE A NICHE FOCUSED
I know, I know…you heard it so many times before.
Many of the lawyers I meet, maybe you are one of them, do not have a niche practice.
All of this emphasis on knowledge and expertise may seem elementary and obvious, but I see on the other side, many lawyers entering niches without much knowledge of those niches.
Let’s stop a moment and think.
You may need to let go of what you think you want to be an authority on and consider what it is you actually know. Because remember – you are an expert already (by being a lawyer and studding law).
If you need to remember one thing from this article, it’s this:
Nothing helps you become an authority on something then spending a whole lot of time on that something.
As a lawyer, not only do you have the experience and knowledge to speak with authority on this thing, but also you have the INTEREST.
Having a targeted, focused niche in which to specialize doesn’t limit your audience, but rather attracts a very captive audience. It’s the perfect combination to become a transformational authority.
ACTION #8: STRENGTHEN YOUR SELF ESTEEM
Let me ask you an important question –
Do you sincerely believe in yourself as a significant, worthy and also capable member in your industry?
You see, in order to build your transformational authority behaviors, it appears that an individual first needs to have high levels of self-esteem.
A lawyer with high self-esteem has self-respect and can accurately assess strengths and weaknesses.
Lawyers with high self-esteem may find transmitting enthusiasm and positivity to their connections and tribe more natural too. Thus, building faster their transformational authority.
One advice – building your self-esteem is always work-in-progress.
ACTION #9: BE INSPIRING
We cannot talk about transformational authority without dealing with one of the most important components, which is – being inspiring.
Although we found that many different attributes help lawyers inspire other people, we also found that you need only one of them to double your chances of being an inspirational transformational authority.
This is the same trait found by Eric Garton is his article in Harvard Business Review “how to be an inspiring leader”: Centeredness.
And in Garton’s words:
“This is a state of mindfulness that enables leaders to remain calm under stress, empathize, listen deeply, and remain present.”
How is it possible that unhappy, unmotivated and disengaged lawyers could possibly become a transformational authority in their field? They can’t.
That’s why this is the special trait that make a big difference between Transactional Authority and Transformational Authority. It is up to you as a lawyer to become someone who will inspire your audience and clients to be what we know we can be.
Drawing insight from Eastern philosophy, “If you want to change the way of being, you have to change the way of doing.”
I believe that there are similarities between building your transformational authority position and “transformational leadership”, a concept introduced by James McGregor Burns in his 1978 book, "Leadership."
He defined transformational leadership as a process where:
"Leaders and their followers raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation.”
Bernard M. Bass later developed the concept of transformational leadership further in his 1985 book, "Leadership and Performance Beyond Expectations,”
For the sake of our development of the concept of “transfomationl Authority”, we will adapt similar concent and claim that if you want to becom a transformational authoriy in your field, you need:
To be a model of integrity and fairness.
To set clear goals.
To have high expectations.
To encourage others.
To provide support and recognition.
To stir the emotions of people.
To get people to look beyond their self-interest.
To inspire people to reach for the improbable.
When you follow these guidelines (or a least most of it) you will stand out in the crowded market place and build an authentic transformational authority position.
Moreover, your services and solutions will become more relevant to your prospects than those of your competitors.
Want to discover more on how to find your Expert Unique Perspective build your authority in your field – and the steps you need to take?
If you have any specific questions with regards to building your authority position and your personal brand or need our help in building your authority position and attract more of the right clients consistently, please send us an e-mail and share it with us. We definitely can help!
Now, go out there and STAND OUT!
About the Author
Itzik Amiel is considered the global leading authority on Business Development, Business Networking & Personal Branding. He is a sought-after international speaker, trainer, business mentor, & attorney-at-law. He is also the bestselling author of “The Attention Switch” & Founder of THE SWITCH®, the global community for professionals to grow their practice.
Itzik teaches Lawyers and other professionals to attract and win their ideal clients by becoming seen as authorities in their field and to SWITCH their relations to Referrals+Revenue+Results.
If you want to get in touch with Itzik and to learn how can you build your Authority in your field, you can book a free discovery session with Itzik HERE