October 25, 2021

There are three things you need to clarify before taking on that practice leader role if you want to stand a chance of succeeding.

At the highest level you need to ask: what will you do? But there is more to it than just this.

Often it goes like this: You take on the new role, and your marching order is, “Go figure!”

Likely, you’re all charged up and ready to go. So you do exactly that.

You have plenty of ideas on improving the practice group and want to do better than your predecessor. And you then discover all these required improvement activities take time – lots of it.

And there’s so little agreement on your role you lose focus.

In any event, your managing partner expects you to continue generating the same levels of revenue and performance. After all, that is what’s made you successful, right?

You’re doomed.

Break it down

Let’s be clear: What will you do? It is actually three central questions related to your future. They are about:

  • Your agenda
  • The expectations of your team
  • How your firm views your role

To not get buried alive, you need agreement on all three. Force the issue: Go and get the input you need. It’s likely an iterative process.

Three questions for clarity

If you want to succeed as a practice leader, you need clarity on these three areas. So, ask:

1. What activities do you need and want to focus on because you believe they are the right ones?

You have been part of the profession for long enough to know what you would like to happen and what activities you need to undertake. Write them down and prioritize.

2. What do your team members expect you to do?

Discuss the activities you want to undertake with team members. Figure out what things your team members expect you to do. Get their agreement on what it should be.

3. What is your firm expecting you to do?

Talk this through with your managing partner. You take on the role so what are the dos and don’ts for you? How will success look like: What would “meeting” or “exceeding” expectations entail?

It takes persistence to clarify these issues but this is what’s needed in order to stand a chance of success in that practice leader role.

And here’s my bonus tip for you:

To ensure your efforts will be relevant, get them down in writing: Your role, responsibilities, accountabilities, performance, measures. Agree on them with those you supervise AND those you report to.

I know this is not how it’s done at your firm! You shouldn’t care. It is the agreement you need before taking on that new role. Or you’ll be out on a limb.

Want to find out where you are at with your partner powers? And get some tips on getting there? Perhaps my PartnerPowers Scorecard is for you. It will take you 2 minutes to find out where you stand with the market, your team, as a leader.

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