Posts tagged: coaching

Free Marketing Seminar

dena-lefkowitzDena Lefkowitz, an accomplished lawyer coach, will be presenting a free marketing seminar on October 20, 2016.  Sponsored by American Executive Centers, the seminar entitled “How to Get the Business You Want Starting Now” will be presented from Noon – 1:00 pm at American Executive Centers; 1515 Market Street; Suite 1200; Philadelphia.

Dena is a very sharp lady with a national practice.  I am privileged to know her.  As a personal coach, Dena assists lawyers with polishing marketing skills, increasing confidence, making career transitions and rediscovering their sense of purpose and joy. She is certified by the International Coach Federation and a former board member of the Philadelphia chapter. Dena has coached a best-selling author, lawyers, and executives in many industries.

For those of you who follow my writings, you know that I am a big believer in coaching assistance for those who need help getting themselves from thought to action.  If you have the time, register and get some solid assistance.  The price will never be better!  And it will give you a chance to see a good coach in action.

Increasing Emotional Intelligence

The concept of emotional intelligence — EQ — hit my radar screen about 25 – 30 years ago while attending a seminar presentation by Dr. Larry Richard, who at the time was a consultant with Altman Weil.  He is now with LawyerBrain, a consulting practice which helps law firms tackle their most important people issues related to leadership, motivation, talent management, and  managing change.

Back then, the concept of emotional intelligence was not on the radar screen of law firms or HR executives.  Explosive 900-lb gorillas ruled the roost, or were tolerated, at a large percentage of firms. Most succeeded in spite of the obvious shortcoming.  In fact, talented attorneys with a high IQ and low EQ were perceived and sometimes sought out as those with the “right stuff” for success.

With my roots firmly planted in financial management, I recognized the fallacy early on.  Turnover at all levels of the firm, defections, and a toxic culture cost the firms I managed dearly in both dollars and work satisfaction.

One particular firm still stands out in my memory despite the passage of decades. The firm was founded by two partners. One was mild in temperament and affable. The other was undoubtedly the holder of the lowest possible EQ score on the planet. He would scream until his face was beet red and white spittle accumulated at the corners of his mouth.  He would scream equally at everyone at the slightest cause of displeasure, or because of the slightest stressor.  He didn’t care where the excoriating took place, and in fact most were public.  It was literally physically uncomfortable to witness him eviscerate his fellow founding partner in the hallway, to the point where the partner’s hands would shake and his head would bow in an attempt to deflect what must have felt like physical blows.

I have since made it my mission to help firms come to the realization that life is too short to allow this behavior to persist if there is an alternative. Admittedly, as some firms the founder is the low-EQ culprit, and the only choice is  endure or leave. But I always point out that when your choice is “my way or the highway,” leaving is an option to be considered.  It’s better than becoming ill from continued stress and abuse day after day.

I also encourage accountability for unacceptable behavior in the same manner that sloppy work, missing deadlines, or inadequate client communications are behaviors which most firms will not tolerate.  However, I find that the majority of firms are still unwilling to deal effectively with low-EQ offenders who are profitable for the firm.  What can your firm do?

Well, if you don’t want to throw out the attorney, at least get him or her some mandatory coaching assistance.  I have been increasingly referring clients to coaches for rainmaking, leadership, organization, and yes, emotional intelligence.  A very smart and talented coach I have become privileged to know is Dena Lefkowitz, founder of Achievement by Design.  Like Dr. Larry Richard, Dena is a “recovered attorney” who works to help those in practice improve their performance, work/life balance, and career satisfaction.

Can coaching make a difference?  I am asked that all the time by skeptical clients.  My answer is that it depends on the coach, and on the lawyer’s willingness and desire to improve.  As Dena states in her article:

. . . professional practices today have less toleration for berating, belittling and bullying behaviors. Unlike our IQ, which remains stable over a lifetime, EQ scores can be measurably improved. Coaches use assessments, such as the EQ-i 2.0, to determine areas of strength and those needing development, which are very useful, especially if there is lack of awareness regarding unwanted behaviors in a partner or employee.

To learn more about emotional intelligence read Dena’s excellent article “How to Harness Emotional Intelligence to Ensure Success” which appeared in the July 30, 2015 issue of The Legal Intelligencer.

 

 

Coaching for PA Lawyers to Improve Marketing and Other Skills

My first major step onto the coaching soapbox came in the form of an article entitled “Coaching to Improve Skills,”  which appeared in the December 3, 2007 issue of The Pennsylvania Bar News.  I wrote it because I was sick and tired of hearing attorneys say that if an attorney did not instinctively know how to market, they would never learn.  It’s just wrong.

Most attorneys are not instinctively good at marketing.  However, marketing is very much a learned skill.  Any attorney is capable of learning how to become an effective rainmaker, or at least a strong contributor to a firm’s efforts.

The fact is that Baby Boomer attorneys grew up in a rapidly expanding marketplace.   Individuals and companies were happy to find an attorney who did decent work, and had a nice “bedside” manner.  That’s about all that was required to grow one’s practice through word of mouth.  There was plenty of room for new attorneys to try one methodology or another, and make mistakes along the way to honing one’s skills in asking for legal work, and referrals to new clients.  Those who chose not to do so were able to make partner by serving the needs of other partners’ clients.  Those “worker bees” chose not to develop skills outside their comfort level, because they didn’t need to do so in order to succeed.  That doesn’t mean that they weren’t capable of doing so.  Maybe they would have needed some assistance to get there, but if motivated, they could have.

When the marketplace leveled off, development of marketing skills started to become a determinant of who would make partner, and who would not.  Firms would invest enormous resources in helping attorneys develop professional skills.  But when the same attorneys did not “naturally” develop marketing skills by a certain point in their career, they were cut loose, on the assumption that they were a lost cause.  Such a shame.  Many who were cast aside went on to develop the skills out of necessity, in order to survive on their own.  Some did better than others, but most managed to survive in the profession.

Now that we’re in a highly-competitive, contracting marketplace, there is even less room for experimentation and trial and error in client development.  Smart firms are realizing that training in this area is as necessary as any other area.  And let’s keep in mind that real learning by lawyers is acquired by “doing” and not by “studying” about it.  That means one must know what to do, how to do it, and then practice and perfect the skills.

For many attorneys, coaching can provide the difference between success and failure.  And that doesn’t apply just to development of rainmaking skills.  Coaches work directly with attorneys to help them create a personal action plan.  They help attorneys identify what is holding them back, and develop strategies to overcome the roadblocks.

I have searched for coaches I can recommend for many years.  Most that I have met over the years do not meet my expectations.  It’s not about the credentials; it’s about the person and their methodology.  I have a few I can recommend to PA Bar Members.  Some focus just in marketing.  Others in more general areas contributing to success.  However, I was recently so impressed by one in particular, I will mention her here.

We became acquainted through LinkedIn.  After some e-conversation, we met in person.  Obviously I was impressed.  So let me recommend you take a look at the credentials of Dena Lefkowitz.  If you decide to call, tell her Ellen sent you.  I don’t get any referral,  just satisfaction knowing attorneys are getting the additional skill training they need to be successful.

 

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