Attorneys whose DISC profiles make them a CS or an SC do not fit the stereotypical image most of us have of law firm leaders. In fact, the very title “Humble Leader” may sound like a contradiction in terms. But the soft-spoken attorneys who possess this profile practice their own brand of quiet leadership and our research shows they are at the helm of a great many firms.
What Motivates Them As Leaders?
Unlike some other leadership styles, Humble Leaders don’t operate with an approach that’s based on the needs of their ego or with the stereotypical desire to wield power and authority. Instead, they’re unpretentious leaders with a strong desire to help people, and do so with reliability and time-tested methods. The optimism that buoys many leaders is replaced by a more cautious approach that mitigates risk. The fact that their behavioral profile is divided between the need for stability and for conscientiousness means they value steadiness and correctness. While not glamorous, consistency and dependability are the two most important drivers of this attorney’s success.
In conflict-filled practice areas, Humble Leaders are often able to bring calm where chaos reigns. For clients in crisis, the even temperament of this attorney has a soothing effect on their roller-coaster emotions. The Humble Leader is not experimental or adventurous in their dealings with clients – or, for that matter, with any aspect of their business. That means they prefer traditional, familiar methods. They aren’t optimists and don’t possess the creative drive and urge to innovate that is irresistible to many other leaders. This means they may fall short in creating a big enough vision for their firm because chasing a vision involves risk. Attorneys who operate with this style take their leadership responsibilities very seriously. Consequently, their obligations weigh on them more heavily than they do on other leaders.
How They Assess Others
Attorneys who operate with this leadership style hold themselves to high standards, value consistency, and place great importance on getting things done correctly. Naturally, they’ll be suspicious of anyone who operates in a faster, looser, more innovative fashion. Being diligent is not just an ethical consideration for them: it’s a way of life.
How They Influence Others
In keeping with their humble approach, these attorneys are much more inclusive in their management style. This means they solicit the perspectives of others and generally accommodate the needs of those on their team. Creating a calm and harmonious workplace is important to them and they try to prevent the chaotic atmosphere that’s so prevalent in other firms. Team members who have worked for more chaos-making leaders will enjoy the relative calm.
How They Influence Others Under Stress
Unlike those leaders who become aggressive and confrontational when faced with a threatening situation, the Humble Leader has a tendency to yield under pressure. Because they value harmony over contentiousness, they may withdraw and quietly engage in a form of passive aggressiveness to win the day. This means they’ll appear unemotional and unattached on the surface while waiting for others to trip themselves up.
This doesn’t mean that these attorneys can’t mount a passionate defense for their clients. They may, in fact, be able to marshal more passion when defending others instead of themselves. But in the workplace, the tendency to avoid confrontation can create issues. Team members will lose respect for the firm leader who doesn’t deal with toxic employees. They’ll lose patience with the leader who tries to laboriously build consensus when decisiveness is what’s needed.
What They Dread
The fast pace and ready embrace of change employed by many leadership styles strikes fear into the heart of this attorney. Other leadership styles are gifted with abundant optimism which allows them to focus solely on the benefits of change and innovation. Seeing only the upside, they impulsively seek the next exciting breakthrough. The Humble Leader, burdened by the pessimistic tendency to see only the downside of change, doesn’t have that advantage. They continuously contemplate the worst-case scenario and cling to tried-and-true methods to avoid risks. This can stunt the growth and even the effectiveness of their firm.
How They Can Be Better Leaders
Humble Leaders benefit from self-awareness in the same way every leader does, but, with their need for stability and natural resistance to change, they have to work harder to adapt their behaviors. However, many of our attorney clients with this profile have demonstrated that they can do what it takes to be a better leader: they learn techniques to calmly confront negative situations, i.e., toxic employees. Instead of withdrawing and becoming passive/aggressive, they learn to express their feelings. And when they’re tempted to stay with the status quo, they force themselves to step out of their comfort zone and experiment. It takes a little extra work, but the Humble Leader can model a form of collaborative leadership that is very service-oriented and not driven by the ego needs of the leader.