The Development of Responsive Management in Law Firms, Corporate and Govermental Law Departments


Dr. Thomas J. Venardos (Certified Professional Consultant to Management)

Anticipating The Future

Do you know what will be required of you to be a successful legal executive in the next century?

What will you personally commit to in order to improve your chances of being more successful?

Are you ready to learn the innovative skills, techniques and approaches that will make you more successful? If you answered these questions in an affirmative manner, you will want to read the remainder of this article.

The responsive manager is one who can think for him/herself, and is not influenced by fads, trends, untried theories or ideas. The responsive manager does not seek short term solutions to long term problems, but instead seeks long-term answers. The responsive manager attempts to raise standards and expectations for the organization. He/she continues to follow the highest level of ethical practices. The responsive manager, is one who responds in an advantageous manner, to the client, the organizational culture (which includes all levels of employees), and the professional services offered to create a unique set of individualized solutions, expectations and standards which meet the challenges of a growing organization.

Your Action Plan

The first step in becoming more responsive, is to be able to identify the kind of organization for which you are employed. Is it predominately a non-responsive or a responsive organization? Is it a combination of each? Below are a number of criteria for each kind of organization. You determine the kind of organization you are employed by and begin to develop strategies of how you may be able to influence it when you are in a responsive mode.

The Nonrepsonsive Organization

The Responsive Organization


Answer the following questions to better determine how well you can develop yourself as a responsive manager.

  1. Do you feel comfortable with making changes in the workplace to show improvement in staff, products and services?
  2. Do you believe we need to create a different set of rules which support, personal responsibility and accountability, to govern the work environment?
  3. Do you think futuristically, when it comes to creating a new organizational environment, that responds to the customer and the use of technology?
  4. Do you believe that competence is critical and fundamental to make an organization successful?
  5. Can you work comfortably with diversity (gender and minority representation, life style, age, communication and management style differences)?
  6. Are you able to put others’ professional needs before yours?
  7. Can you accept others’ input, both from inside and outside the company, and allow them to assist you in creating higher standards?
  8. Can you develop and live by long-term goals, based on long-term visions and objectives?
  9. Are you willing to be continuously updated on technological advances and learn by receiving additional educational and training?
  10. Are you willing to establish or enhance training programs for others in the organization (staff, management, senior management) which promotes competence and the development of higher standards?
  11. Can you accept not receiving credit for your professional efforts or accomplishments?
  12. Can you remain basically optimistic and appreciative in your attitude about work and living without becoming frustrated or bitter?

Answering yes to nine or more of these questions will give you a distinct advantage toward developing your skills and competencies to become a responsive manager in your organization.

The Four Basic Activities Needed to Activate the Responsive Manager In you

  1. Recognize your competencies and outstanding achievements in the legal profession, but also realize that you will be required to learn new and different skills to become a responsive manager and to create a responsive legal organizational culture. You will be required to learn practical and applied competencies to make yourself more successful in the future.
  2. You must learn all the restrictions and constraints that come with being a manager of people. Take time to learn the legal, political, social, personal and professional restrictions regarding your staff and firm, and especially learn how to communicate effectively with others.
  3. Take time to learn what you staff needs in the way of education and training to raise standards in your firm. You should take the responsibility for improving the expectations and standards of others. This should provide you with a long-term professional payoff
  4. In addition to providing learning opportunities for the staff, you need to develop a professional life-long learning strategy for yourself. This will provide you with current updated management and technical skills needed in your profession. This will also help you raise your own professional expectations and standards.

What is critical in the legal career field, is for you to make a significant professional contribution, which will enhance your professional reputation and effectiveness. You must decide what kind of contribution to make and in what manner. This will also help in making your firm more distinctive while providing higher standards of services. All of this taken into account, will in all probability, raise the chances of greater financial success for you and the firm, It will also enhance your career, and prepare you for a more comfortable and successful future.

The Responsive Manager and the Legal Organizational Culture

You will want to begin by committing to the one long-term professional goal: improving professional communications by being more effective with the organizational culture. This will require you to become a more active participant with a positive orientation. You will need to adopt some of the following applied strategies to accomplish this level of professional communications:

  1. Be aboveboard and ethical.
  2. Always remember that others will work harder for you if they like and respect you.
  3. Present a “Can Do” attitude.
  4. Do what you say–say what you do.
  5. Demonstrate a commitment to client (internal and external).
  6. Work toward fulfilling the big picture within the firm for future survival and success.
  7. When you make a contribution to the team also raise the expectations and professional performance standards of others.

As you can readily see, this professional approach requires consistent and definite behaviors on your part. It also requires you be become more active in your approach to communicating and supporting others. You are expected to be the model of high standards and purposeful direction. You will be providing the game plan to fulfill the firm’s higher expectations and standards.

Where Do You Go From Here?

Now begins the laborious work and planning. Everything you do will require applied and practical outcomes. You should begin with the very basics, by developing mutual respect, trust and honesty with others. You should create client value. You should improve the optimism and humor in the work place.

You should follow high ethical standards. You should correct any mistakes made and show constant improvement. You should learn crisis management techniques. You should plan for the long-term utilization of technology which will eventually make your firm more efficient and competitive. You should learn how to bounce back from failure situations, quickly, and reward yourself, for a job well done.

The course is set, the future is waiting for you. I wish you the very best.

Dr. Venardos is the author of The Responsive Management Manual He specializes in organizational and staff development with an emphasis on creating higher performance standards and preparing the organization for successful functioning in the future.

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