Making partner is more than just proving you can win work. You also need to prove that you can build and develop a team. As a ‘team leader’ you will be playing multiple different roles. In this article, based on an extract from Poised for Partnership, I look at the 5 different roles team leaders need to fulfill.
Being a triple threat
New partners need to be people who can be trusted to run the firm. This means you need to be a triple threat: i.e. someone who can win work, be excellent with clients, and develop a team beneath you. In fact, people may be turned down for partner because they have either neglected to develop their successor or their team has limited respect for them. In other words, the quality of the team you build, and how the other non-partners view you, is just as important as the quality of your client portfolio.
Having a strong and loyal team is one of the ways you can create more time to build your client portfolio. So time spent on your team is actually an investment.
What are the 5 roles of a team leader?
To create your strong team, you need to be prepared to play five main roles as a team leader:
Route finder and target setter. The team looks to you to set their purpose and targets, and help them identify the plan to achieve these. Ideally, your targets and the team’s targets will be aligned and flow from the firm or departmental strategy.
Facilitator. It takes time and energy to get a team to work well together. Your role will be to work within the team to help them bond and trust each other. There will always be roadblocks along the way, and it is your role to remove these to enable the team to deliver.
Coach and trainer. You can’t expect all your team members, particularly the more junior ones, to have the right skills and behaviours to do the job in hand. Your role is to act as the team coach to help them develop and behave at the level expected of them.
Motivator. You need to provide the motivation for the team as a whole, but also on an individual level. This means that you need to work out what makes each individual team member tick, and how you can help motivate them. Very often, professionals in practice are motivated by interesting work, career progression and feeling valued for who they are and what they bring to the firm.
Conflict resolver. Your role as a team leader will involve resolving conflict. This could be individual team member disputes through to other people wanting to reallocate your resources to their assignment. It is not unusual for a team to go through a phase of conflict. It often occurs after the team has initially formed and gone through the ‘honeymoon’ stage. It is your role to resolve these conflicts as and when they appear, and if possible nip them in the bud before they become serious or entrenched.
Your team’s ability to perform is directly related to how well you lead and manage them. The 5 roles you need to play will take you away from your day job and client work but are essential to get a high performing team working for you.