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Leadership

How Crises Affect Law Firm Leaders — and Some Helpful Resources

By Gina Rubel

I’ve been thinking about what it means to lead a company through crises and how each crisis affects law firm leaders. A few years ago, I believed I had handled just about every type of crisis conceivable. How wrong I was.

In recent years, we have dealt with a global pandemic, a divided political nation and civil unrest. We all learned how to pivot and maneuver through a pandemic. We have strengthened our resolve. We have invested in our teams and talent. We have committed to real diversity, equity and inclusion outcomes. And we have invested endless energy in our firms and in support of our clients.

Adaptable, Resilient and Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

Today, as I write this, we are past the first week of Russia’s assault on Ukraine, a sovereign nation. I am disgusted and awed by the news coming out of Ukraine, Russia, Poland, the United Nations, NATO and the U.S. Many headlines are gut-wrenching, and others are filled with hope. They read like an unyielding yo-yo:

  • “Would Putin press the nuclear button?”
  • “Miles-long lines, the kindness of strangers, an uncertain future”
  • “Under Ukraine’s cities, civilians spend days in metro stations turned bomb shelters”
  • “Stories Of Ukrainian Heroism Are Emerging And Giving The Country Hope”
  • “Russia hits back at Europe over flight ban”
  • “FIFA to suspend Russia as IOC calls for athletes’ suspension”
  • “US cutting off Russia’s central bank from US dollar transactions”

There are simply thousands of headlines that we need to stay abreast of while determining what we need to do to remain adaptable, resilient and emotionally intelligent.

Helpful Resources for Law Firm Leaders

As a company leader, I have been spending more time learning new ways to lead in what has become the new normal and searching for resources to share with our team and our clients.

To that end, here are various resources and some takeaways worth sharing.

Alix Partners

“Four Lessons to Confront Ongoing Uncertainty in 2022”

“With the new year underway, one thing appears certain, and that is continued uncertainty. As The Economist has cautioned, ‘the new normal is already here.’ Uncertainty has emerged as the defining characteristic of our age.”

“Are We Seeing the Dawning of the Age of ‘Impossibly Impeccable’ Leadership?”

“What we’re seeing are three core capabilities coming to the fore: adaptability, resilience and emotional intelligence. These are not instead of the technical skills required to lead a business; they must exist alongside them — head and heart working together; two sides of the same coin called leadership. They are critical to the success of the business and the individual.”

Chief Executive

“The Anxious CEO: Four Steps To Reduce Executive Anxiety”

“[D]isruptions are here to stay. However, as with so many overwhelmingly complex situations in life, the challenge of leadership is best addressed by prioritizing what really matters (do three critical things, not 300), building enduring partnerships and alliances, and regular, transparent communication. It will still be tough, but it doesn’t need to cause quite as much anxiety as executives are experiencing today.”

“Servant Leadership: 5 Relational Intelligence Skills You Need to Have”

“The best servant leaders are relationally intelligent. The relationships they form matters. Employees may accept jobs and roles for the titles or financial incentives, but they remain loyal to organizations because of the relationships they build with their leaders.”

Harvard Business Review

“How to Respectfully Discuss Contentious Issues at Work”

“The path to productivity in the workplace and harmony in the world is at least in part in our own hands…or minds. Scrutinize your own stories and you’ll moderate the way you see others. Moderate the way you see others and you’re more likely to find a way to productive dialogue.”

Harvard Business School

“How to Become a More Resilient Leader”

“Building resilience is vital to becoming a leader who can successfully navigate through challenges and guide others with courage and conviction. In a recent study by Zenger Folkman, it was found that leaders with high levels of resilience are viewed as being more effective by their managers, peers, and direct reports. Research shows that firms imbued with resilience don’t just survive, but they thrive in the face of change and uncertainty.”

Joychiever

My friend, Tracy LaLonde, has fantastic resources available at Joychiever.com. I have her latest book, The Joycheiver Journey, and get her emails (and read them) regularly. She also offers many courses like “Banish Burnout” that I plan to add to my to-do list. I particularly like today’s message, “Are You Burning Out?” She says:

“Burnout manifests itself in many individual ways, but if you want a quick way to check your burnout “pulse,” consider this list.

  • I am unable to complete tasks on time.
  • I lose track of tasks and time.
  • I am moody and irritable with those around me.
  • I feel tired, even when I get good sleep.
  • I am unsatisfied with previously enjoyed tasks or activities.
  • I am experiencing minor unexplained physical ailments.
  • I use busyness as an excuse for canceling the fun aspects of my life.
  • I am withdrawing from my team and don’t participate much in meetings.
  • I am having sleep problems.
  • I chronically work during personal hours.

Examine how often any of these items occur for you each month, as well as look at how many of them are occurring regularly for you. While there is no exact science, you may want to do further self-exploration if your frequency rate is high for a number of these items. (Or if your score is above 20.)”

And if you do want to do more work, be sure to get her book, subscribe to the Joy Journal, and follow Joychiever on LinkedIn.

The Gary Vee Audio Experience (Podcast)

I like everything about Gary Vee. He says it like it is and throws lots of punches. Here’s a great episode:

“Why You Need to Surround Yourself With People Who Lift You Up”

Vee says, “Today’s episode is all about finding the positivity in your life. I urge you to search for people in your inner circle that strengthen your insecurities, boost your confidence, hold you accountable and make you happy. That’s why I believe I’m able to be happy … and my close friends are able to be happy.”

If you’re reading this, you too are feeling the strain of today’s headlines. All business leaders are affected by what is happening in the world and we need to band together to remain adaptable, resilient and emotionally intelligent.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

More Resources from Attorney at Work

Checklist: Developing a Crisis Communications Plan

For help with your crisis communication plan, download Gina’s “Crisis Evaluation and Messaging Checklist” and “Key Message Matrix.

Everday Public Relations for Lawyers“Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers”

In the new edition of her book, public relations and communications specialist Gina Rubel covers everything you need to know about modern public relations — including the key items to include in your firm’s strategic communications plan. New in this edition: a detailed chapter covering the critical aspects of developing your firm’s crisis communications plan. Get Gina’s clear, no-nonsense advice, checklists and templates for promoting yourself, your firm and your clients.

Published by Attorney at Work and available in both digital and print in our bookstore, here.

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Gina Rubel Gina Rubel

Gina F. Rubel is the CEO of Furia Rubel Communications, Inc.,  which celebrates its 20th  anniversary this year. Corporate and law firm leaders call on Gina for high-stakes public relations, crisis planning, and incident response support including high-profile litigation media relations. Listed among the Lawdragon Global 100 Leading Consultants and Strategists to the Legal Profession, Gina is a widely acknowledged expert on legal marketing and law firm public relations and a sought-after speaker and media expert. She is a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management and in the American Bar Foundation. Her latest book, “Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers, 2nd Edition,” is available from AttorneyatWork.com. Visit FuriaRubel.com for more information and follow Gina on Twitter @FuriaRubel.

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