What does it mean to be a leader?

And what does true leadership in a law firm context really entail?

Clearly, there is no “one size fits all” answer to these questions. Every leader’s approach and plan will necessarily vary, depending on circumstances, temperament, objectives, opportunities – and practicalities.

But behind any effective plan lies a vision of where you want to get, a framework for getting there, and a well-thought-out gameplan for implementing whatever changes that vision may drive.

I will mark the 30th anniversary of my call to the Ontario Bar in April. I will be 57 years of age in September.

At this juncture in my career, I think about developing my own professional leadership – in a small firm context – quite a bit. And I am starting to think quite differently about what that leadership role means, both to me and to the very good people I am fortunate to work with.

And frankly, one of the most difficult challenges, and perhaps the most rewarding when met with success, is simply getting out of the way, so that those talented people you work with can actually do their own jobs completely and build their own track records of personal growth and professional success.

We have talked about delegation a number of previous times here at SlawTips.

I’d like to add this simple thought to the mix: Effective delegation is one of the highest expressions of true leadership. And the corollary also holds: Any leader who fails to effectively delegate is probably no leader at all.

By delegate, I don’t mean feeding tiny scraps of grunt work down the chain to eager underlings.

I mean incrementally delegating the whole enchilada.

Delegating entire files. Key court attendances and transactions. Entire  projects and departments. And delegating real responsibility for maintaining and building key relationships.

Keeping a finger in, where and when it needs to be, of course, but primarily focusing on the “executive” tasks that maximize what you, personally, can now bring to the table.

The more able you are to do that, the more able you will be to implement the balance of your vision.

And it does start with a vision.

Are you thinking of yours?

(We might as well begin there)


I will continue with these thoughts in my subsequent posts. Given the  addition of so many talented, new contributors to the Practice Tips bench, you will be seeing a little less of me here, moving forward.

I will be staying with SlawTips, of course, with my own turn to post coming every two months or so. And I am apparently now an editor here, with respect to our new contributors’ posts.

The good news is you will be reading some really interesting Tips articles from some exceptional, new voices.

And you may be seeing a bit more of me now at my own flagship, Wise Law Blog. That’s not such a bad trade-off, as it turns out, and I’m quite looking forward to it.

So see you again at SlawTips in May.

And Happy Easter to all who are celebrating.

Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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