Founders, owners, CEOs, partners, managers, team leaders. These are titles you’ll see in every business. But in every successful business, you’ll find some unofficial titles too.
Take our recent guest on The Rankings Podcast, Mike Morse. Head over to his website and he’s listed as owner and founder. But if you talk to anyone who’s worked with Mike, they’ll give you a different job title – visionary.
But a great business needs more than just a visionary, which is why we’ve created this guide to the essential people and personality types you need to operate a successful law firm.
1. The Visionary
The visionary is someone who has the big ideas. Some might call them dreamers. In Mike’s own words:
a visionary is someone who has a hundred ideas a day
Their role is to come up with the innovations that keep the business moving forward. In a law firm they might:
- come up with marketing strategies.
- think of new systems to put in place.
- make decisions on branding.
- decide on new directions to take the practice.
Really, they could come up with ideas on just about anything.
And while a big part of their role is to innovate, they play just as much a role in motivation.
Visionaries set big goals for a practice. They’re looking one to five years ahead and sometimes even further. They give a practice a heading to follow. Whether that’s to secure higher value clients, or to increase profits. And it’s their enthusiasm for the mission that keeps the team motivated.
They give context to the work that staff undertake and remind them that every new client or favorable court decision is a tangible factor driving the firm forward. Their own drive focuses others and keeps everyone on target.
Visionaries should embody a firm’s purpose or mission. Because of their passion for creating and building, visionaries tend to already be leaders, like Mike Morse. So if you’re thinking of starting, or have started, a firm, you might already have the makings of a visionary.
2. The Implementer
These are the people who actually take the ideas from the visionary and run with them. A perfect example of a great implementer is previous guest, and Mike’s business partner, John Nachazel.Officially, John is the COO at the Mike Morse Law Firm, but to Mike, he is the implementer. He’s the guy who makes Mike’s big ideas happen. Implementers take the grand designs of the visionary and break them down into their component parts. This makes them more manageable, practical, and doable.
They can keep track of different teams and projects and help to steer them in the right direction. They’re also great at running meetings and offer a vital connection between leadership and employees. They don’t just dispense information from the visionary, but they deliver it to the visionary too. As such, they’re fantastic at processing and translating data and they can find correlations to work out where problems stem from.
They’re data and detail-focused and they’re in their element running projects and seeing them through to the end.
Most importantly, implementers, like visionaries, are passionate about their cause. In some ways, their passion is more important than the visionaries’. This is because the implementer is the one stoking the fires of a project on the ground. The visionary may set ambitious goals to give employees a unifying purpose, but the implementer motivates and manages them every step of the way.
3. The Ambassador
This is where the roles get a little more nebulous and might not be exclusive to one team member or employee.
Ambassadors are the face of your practice. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the face in your ads, but rather they’re the people that represent you to clients or, sometimes, business partners. They’re evangelists for your practice and reflect everything that’s great about it.
You’re likely to find your ambassador somewhere in your intake department. They’re friendly, natural salespeople and they have a ton of empathy. They embody the values of your practice and they project it out to the world. Ambassadors are your firm’s connection to your client, so you should make sure when hiring for a new one that you get an “A-Player”.Most likely, your ambassador is someone you’ve probably promoted to head up your intake department, or they’re your go-to person for reaching out to referral sources. The great thing about ambassadors is that you can have more than one. And, ideally, you’ll have an ambassador model in-mind, encompassing all the qualities you want to project to help shape new ones.
And not every ambassador has to be on your payroll. As mentioned, an ambassador can be an evangelist for your firm, so even clients can be ambassadors.
4. The Devil’s Advocate
And finally, the devil’s advocate. These are the people that keep everyone grounded. They might seem like they’re being negative, but, really, they’re realists.
They are the antidotes to yes-men who can lead you astray by praising bad ideas. At their heart, they’re problem-solvers. They examine decisions and ideas to find faults. And that’s not because they’re not trying to shoot them down, they’re trying to weed-out weaknesses early so they can be fixed. They provide an objective set of eyes so when you’ve been laboring over an idea for hours, probably blinded by excitement, they can offer their objective perspective to help you make your idea better.
And they can help out with difficulties too. Again, and we can’t stress this enough, they’re problem solvers. They’re able to keep a cool head and see through the negativity and obstacles posed by a challenge and find opportunities and solutions. And it’s their “go get 'em” attitude to problems that can rally a team when it’s most needed.
The devil’s advocate, more than the other roles, is more a personality trait you should encourage rather than appointing one person to be. But it’s as vital a role as any of the others mentioned to make sure you and your team are focused on the right things.
Hopefully this rundown of the personalities you need in your law firm has given you a sense of which roles you and your leadership team play. And while everyone might like to think that they’re the visionary, the reality is that each of these roles is crucial when it comes to running a successful law firm. And for more information about how to utilize these different roles, check out our article on how and why you should delegate.