Jack Welch has been often quoted in terms of leadership and management for good reason.
“Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act.” Jack Welch
How many of us work in environments where instilling self-confidence in others is seen by some managers as threatening?
Management at times and in certain people’s eyes, is seen to be equivalent to control. Perhaps in some organizations and in some situations this is necessary. But I think that in the vast majority of institutions, and I count law firms and other professional service firms in this larger category, hardly ever fall into this situation.
Instead management should be creating an environment where dealing with change – effectively dealing with change – is as a result of empowering people to have the self-confidence to anticipate and implement the proper steps to deal with the situation when they sense that it is necessary to do so.
If a law firm must have all decisions made by a beneficial despot or small management team before any action can be taken, then you have created a situation where no one is willing to take a risk and take action, fearing that they will be reprimanded as a result. That is the equivalent of a deer being frozen in the headlights. And we all know what happens when this occurs.
Accordingly, I feel the most important skill that management can pass along to others is not to look to management to make decisions but rather to incubate learning and adaptation in the organization so that smaller, more agile and adaptive decisions can be made quickly, easily and naturally. Management then can have a hand in guiding the further development of that change.
Management should not seek to control; rather management should seek to incubate and cultivate leadership in others. Rather than being threatened by the increasing skills of staff, the organization should embrace the increased agility and adaptation to change that this creates.
After all, isn’t increasing self-confidence all about empowering the firm and those within it to act and to act quickly in order to adapt to smaller changes as they occur in order that the firm isn’t broadsided by a big change? Instilling such a learning environment will only become more important as change continues to wash over us.