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30
Jul

Preparing Use of Proceeds Disclosures

Registration statements, as well as private placement disclosure documents, typically include a discussion of the proposed use of proceeds collected from the offering.  The attached template is an illustration of the presentation that might be used when the company needs to tell investors how their funds will be spent if the offering is not fully subscribed.

27
Jul

The Ethical Manager

When carrying out their duties and responsibilities managers may often find themselves confronted with an “ethical dilemma”, which a situation in the manager must decide whether to take a certain course of action that helps another person or group and which is the “right thing to do” even if the action is not in the manager’s own self-interest.  In order for the manager to act effectively and appropriately in those instances, he or she needs to have a fundamental understanding of ethics and how ethical principles apply to managers and their organizations. 

According to Kelly and Williams, ethics are the inner-guiding moral principles, values, and beliefs that individuals and groups use to analyze or interpret a situation and then decide what is right and the appropriate way to behave.  The concept of ethics can be viewed at several levels: 

  • Individual ethics are personal standards and values that determine how people view their responsibilities to other people and groups and how they should act in situations where their own self-interest is at stake
  • Occupational ethics are standards that govern how members of a particular profession, trade or craft should conduct themselves when performing their work-related activities
  • Organizational ethics are the guiding principles through which an organization and its managers view their duties and responsibilities to the organization’s stakeholders (e.g., owners, managers, employees, suppliers and distributors, customers and the surrounding community)
  • Societal ethics are standards that govern how the members of a society deal with one another in matters that involve issues such as fairness, justice, poverty and individual rights

Van Auken argued that ethical managers demonstrated certain characteristics including:

  • Looking out for the interests of others, including customers, employees and minority members of society
  • Valuing employees as people as well as workers and giving respect to their family responsibilities, community involvement and religious beliefs
  • Not deceiving people and simply telling them what they want to hear rather than the truth
  • Not playing psychological games with others, such as blame-shifting, practicing one-upmanship or playing favorites
  • Valuing people over pragmatism and recognizing that how things are achieved is just as important as what is achieved.
  • Focusing on the ultimate objective or mission (the “ends”) more than rules and regulations (the “means”)
  • A commitment to ideals beyond self, such as honesty, fair play, and quality work

Van Auken went on to recommend that managers understand and adhere to several guiding ethical principles when engaging in supervisory behavior:

  • The “mission” principle: Stick to the basic mission of the organization (e.g., service, quality, value to the customer) as the day-to-day guide to supervisory behavior and decision making
  • The “consistency” principle:  Demand the same fair and objective standards from every employee.
  • The “constituency” principle: Consider the needs and rights of as many organizational stakeholders as possible in decision making
  • The “proactive” principle: Seek to exceed minimum expectations or rules when taking action and strive to find ways to deliver as much as possible to others
  • The “holism” principle: Remember to keep the “big picture” in mind at all times and recognize the importance of the personal side of employees in addition to their professional activities, the service side of business along with the profit side and the needs of the minority as well as the majority

Kelly and Williams also offered ethical rules and principles that managers could use to analyze the impact of their decisions on organizational stakeholders:

  • The “utilitarian” rule:  An ethical decision is one that produces the greatest good for the greatest number of people, which means that managers should compare alternative courses of action based on the benefits and costs of each alternative for different organizational stakeholders
  • The “moral rights” rule: An ethical decision is the one that best maintains and protects the fundamental rights and privileges of the people affected by it, which means managers must take into account the effective of each alternative decision on the rights of each affected stakeholder group.
  • The “justice” rule: An ethical decision is one that distributes both the benefits and the harms among the organizational stakeholders in a fair, equitable or impartial manner
  • The “practical” rule: An ethical decision is one that a manager would have no hesitation communicating to others both inside and outside of the organization because they would find it to be reasonable and acceptable (i.e., consistent with values, norms and standards typically acknowledged and applied within the organization)

Legal and ethical principles are not necessarily the same; however, laws generally reflect the ethical norms at a particular time.  Ethical principles are also subject to change over time as societies evolve.  Kelly and Williams noted that there are no absolute or indisputable ethical rules or principals, but it has been suggested the following core values arguably transcend political, religious, class and ethnic differences: trustworthiness (i.e., honesty and following through on promises made); respect (i.e., showing consideration for others and treating them as you would like to be treated); responsibility (i.e., perseverance, self-discipline and personal accountability); fairness (i.e., providing equal opportunities and being open-minded); caring (i.e., kindness and compassion); and citizenship (i.e., cooperation and willingness to contribute to the broader community).

Effective managers understand the beliefs and behaviors of ethical individuals and attempt to practice them as they engaged in their managerial roles and activities.  Trevino et al. suggested that this means managing with integrity and honesty, inspiring trust from subordinates, treating people the right way and playing fairly and striving for a high level of moral development.  In addition, managers must do what they can to create and maintain an ethical organization that is based on ethical leadership (i.e., leader communications regarding ethics and values, role modeling, rewards for ethical behavior and swift and sure discipline for unethical behavior) and structures and systems that support and reinforce ethical behavior (i.e., organizational culture, code of ethics, ethics committee and chief ethics office, ethics training and procedures for anonymous reporting of ethical concerns (“whistleblowing”)).

Sources: M. Kelly and C. Williams, “Business Ethics and Social Responsibility”, in M. Kelly and C. Williams, BUSN: Introduction to Business, Business Ethics and Social Responsibility (Independence, KY: Cengage Learning, 2015); P. Van Auken, http://business.baylor.edu/Phil_VanAuken/EthiclSupvr.html; Josephson Institute’s 2009 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth Summary (“Universal Ethical Standards”); and L. Trevin, L. Harman and M. Brown, “Moral Person and Moral Manager”, California Management Review, 42(4) (Summer 2000), 128.

23
Jul

Primer on Joint Venture Operating Activities

Once a new joint venture corporation, partnership or limited liability company has been formed, organized and capitalized it's time to get down to the day-to-day operation of the new business and the attached Primer on Joint Venture Operational Activities provides an overview of what's in store.

20
Jul

Elements of the Managerial Craft

Once they reach a certain minimum size organizations inevitably begin to add managerial roles to their organizational hierarchy.  The titles and responsibilities of managers vary significantly and can change rapidly as the organization pivots to confront new challenges and opportunities.  Regardless of their specific roles and duties, managers must be able to understand the behavior of those with whom they work as well as keep in touch with their own feelings.  For example, since a manager is are generally responsible for the way that a group of workers fulfills their job responsibilities he or she must engage in certain activities to make sure that work goes smoothly including developing and implementing motivational strategies, designing the roles of each of the works, resolving conflicts, setting group and individual goals and evaluating the performance of the group and each of the members of the group.  Almost all managers, other than the chief executive officer, must interact with more senior managers and thus must develop an understanding of power and decision making within the organization.  Specifically, managers must mindful of the overall design and structure of the organization and understand the core principles embedded in the organizational culture.  Managers must also interact with colleagues and peers throughout the organization and must develop the capacity to communicate and collaborate effectively.  In many instances, managers must serve as the representative of the organization in transactions and other interactions with key external stakeholders of the organization such as customers, suppliers, regulators and the communities in which the organization is operating.  Finally, while being a manager can be a rewarding experience, it is a role that requires an ability to cope with increased stress, communications skills, empathy and a drive to improve existing managerial skills and acquire and perfect new ones as needed for career development to continue.   

A wide range of definitions and conceptualizations of management have been offered and it is often difficult for managers to fully and clearly understand their roles within the organization; however, managers striving for effectiveness and success would do well to invest time and effort into understanding the functions, roles and skills associated with the managerial position. As with definitions of management, researchers and commentators have developed a variety of lists of managerial functions.  The consensus seems to be that managers can expect to be involved in planning, organizing, leading and controlling, and that these functions will be needed when working with a range of organizational resources including people, cash, physical assets and information.  Managers play a number of roles on a day-to-day basis and Mintzberg’s well-known theory of basic managerial roles suggests at least ten that cluster into three broad categories: interpersonal roles, which involve relating to other people inside and outside the organization; informational roles, which involve acquiring, processing and distributing information relating to the organization and the world in which it operates; and decision-making roles, which involve initiating changes, resolving disputes and allocating resources.  In carrying out their functions and roles, managers must employ a portfolio of different types of technical, interpersonal, conceptual, and diagnostic skills. 

What is immediately important to a manager will change from moment to moment based on circumstances often outside of the manager’s control.  For example, the optimal components of a manager’s skill set depend on his or her level in the organizational hierarchy: managers supervising frontline employees on the shop floor need to have the technical and interpersonal skills necessary to explain how certain tasks are performed and how things are done within the organization while managers higher up in the hierarchy spend less time using those skills and are more engaged in overall problem-solving and planning that lean more heavily on diagnostic and conceptual skills.  In addition, managerial roles and priorities are continuously shifting as a result of changes in the social and cultural environment in which the organization operates, advances in information technology and changes in attitudes regarding the nature and form of the workplace and the employment relationship.  Organizational ethics, diversity, global learning, outsourcing, downsizing and freelancing are just some of the trends and issues that have pushed organizations and their managers to think differently about the way that they interact with and guide their human resources.

While a manager needs to understand what is required of him or her with regard to functions, roles and skills, he or she will be lost unless there is a way to determine whether or not the actions taken as a manager are effective.  Not surprisingly, managerial effectiveness is a heavily debated concept and understandably difficult to measure since managerial activities occur at different levels within the organization.  For example, whether a manager has been effective in overseeing the work of an individual worker involves measuring both behaviors (e.g., productivity, performance, absenteeism and turnover) and attitudes (e.g., job satisfaction, organizational commitment, organizational involvement and stress) of the worker.  When managers are involved with managing groups and teams, effectiveness is measured by team productivity and performance and by examining the norms and methods of collaboration that have been adopted by the members of the group of team.  Finally, the actions of managers ultimately impact achievement of organizational-level goals such as financial performance and satisfactory relationships with external stakeholders. Achieving effectiveness at all levels is challenging for managers since actions that might be optimal at one level may endangers goals set at another level: raising salaries and expanding benefits may improve individual attitudes but may also jeopardize attainment of organization-wide financial targets promised to investors.    

The functions and roles of managers, as well as the metrics used to determine their effectiveness, all influence the “management style” used and preferred within the organization.  There is no single management style that applies in all instances and there are a number of factors that likely have an impact on the selection and effectiveness of management styles, including the type of organization, business purpose and activities of the organization, size of the organization, operating environment, corporate culture, societal culture, information technology and communication and, finally, the personal style and behavior of the owner or chief executive.  In addition, as mentioned above, managerial behaviors and styles will and must vary depending on the where the manager is in the organizational hierarchy and the type of activities that he or she is overseeing and it can be expected that management styles will change as firms transition to new business models based on changing trends in the marketplace.  Management styles are widely studied because research indicates that they are significant factor in determining overall organizational effectiveness.  It is obvious that the elements of management style have a direct influence on how individual employees and work groups perform their operational activities, including the actual sequence of tasks, the goals they are pursuing and how they feel about their roles within the organization.  Management style also determines the level of cooperation within the organization and how people within the organization interrelate with one another and with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders outside of the organization. 

16
Jul

Drafting Checklist for Joint Venture Memorandum of Understanding

Negotiating and operating a joint venture is a time-consuming and risky undertaking that requires a good deal of advance thought.  It is generally recommended that the parties take the time to sit down and hammer out the basic terms in a memorandum of understanding to identify potential issues and problems and lay out the timeline for proceeding.  A checklist of topics typically covered as part of any comprehensive "MOU" is a helpful business tool.  

13
Jul

Are Business Plans Relics of the Old Economy? Don’t Jump to Conclusions

An article in The New York Times in late 2014 examined the trendy premise that business plans are “an old economy relic” and that because business is moving faster than it was a decade ago entrepreneurs are dispensing with plans, going straight to market with their new product or service and then using feedback from customers to chart their next moves.  Apparently the justification for this approach is that entrepreneurs don’t have enough information to prepare a plan; however, this misses many of the key advantages associated with taking a little time to think beyond the present moment.  Another reason that some entrepreneurs in the tech industry aren’t interested in a voluminous business plan is that their main goal is developing a new app goes viral and gets them acquired and hired by a larger and more established company.  In that situation, the relevant issue really boils down to project management and an intense marketing blitz.

The article begins with the story of an entrepreneur who found that all the hours that she’d spent on her business plan got her nowhere when she couldn’t land the location she was hoping for.  The experience caused her to swear off ever doing the same thing again in terms of business plan preparation; however, when a different opportunity came up a year later she found that the work previously done was invaluable as a starting point for selecting and building a brand for her new venture and provided a foundation for e-mail contact platforms, loyalty programs, customer-management strategies and social media promotions.  The article provided several other nuggets about the planning process that should give growth-oriented entrepreneurs pause before “winging it”: 

  • View the planning exercise as an opportunity to think through various scenarios that might play out after you have taken the initial step.  As noted in the article, planning allows you to “make your mistakes on paper, rather than in real life”.
  • Even when you believe that the market will guide you if you can only get that product or service into the hands of customers, you need to have some general idea about basic business life-and-death issues such as revenues, pricing and the initial target market.
  • Planning is what’s most important, not necessary the plan itself, and entrepreneurs need to establish priorities—figure out the most important thing they need to do next—and focus on action steps for those priorities.  The planning process is also the best time to take a hard look at what might not be working so that scarce resources are not wasted.
  • Even if you aggressively move into the market, treasure the feedback you get from initial customers and use it as a basis for gaining a solid understanding of how those customers see your product or service.  This will allow you make changes to improve the customer experience and demonstrate to investors and other business partners that you have a grasp of how the market works.

The article noted that the format of business plans has shifted from the thick binders to short videos or slide decks; however, this has not changed the need for entrepreneurs to be able to provide the important metrics of the proposed business and explain in detail the assumptions they have relied upon in deciding to press forward.

Source:  E. Zimmerman, “As Start-Up Strategies Evolve, So Does the Role of a Business Plan”, The New York Times (December 4, 2014), B6.  Resources referred to in the article include B. Cooper, P. Vlaskovits and E. Ries, The Lean Entrepreneur: How Visionaries Create Products, Innovate with New Ventures, and Disrupt Markets (New York: Wiley, 2013); and R. Abrams, Successful Business Plan: Secrets and Strategies (6th Ed) (Palo Alto: PlanningShop, 2014).

9
Jul

Checklists for Preparation of IPO Registration Statement

The recently updated chapter on Registered Public Offering of Securities (Chapter 288) now includes drafting (§ 288:149.24) and review (§ 288:149.25) checklists for a registration statement for the initial public offering of a smaller reporting company.  These checklists can be used to ensure that all applicable disclosure requirements have been satisfied and as a tool for educating clients about the information they will need to prepare in order for their registration statement to be complete.  Updates have also been made to the board of directors’ resolutions for filing of a registration statement and related matters (§ 288:154) to highlight certain optional topics that the board may wish to address in specific circumstances.

 

8
Jul

Leadership Styles on Effective Law Firm Leaders

In a 2008 article on law firm leadership, Richard and Sirkin began by discussing the six possible leadership styles identified by Goleman in his Harvard Business Review article on “Leadership That Gets Results” and argued that in the law firm context these styles may appear as follows: 

  • Visionary leaders in law firms excel at clearly articulating the chosen strategic direction to other lawyers and inspiring those lawyers to move in that direction. Law firms led by a visionary leader can be exciting places to work and the overall morale is infused with hope and optimism.
  • Coaching or mentoring leaders are willing to invest substantial resources in developing the skills of individual lawyers and generate devote a lot of time and effort in discussions with lawyers about their aspirations and fears. Coaching leaders thrive on their ability to create and maintain strong emotional bonds and relationships with other lawyers and, in turn, those lawyers feel more secure in their roles with the firm.
  • Affiliative leaders are concerned with ensuring the law firm is seen as a friendly, supportive and positive place to work and are inclined toward supporting activities that improve and maintain morale and cooperation among the lawyers and support personnel. Affiliative leaders are generally well-liked and have a natural tendency to provide positive feedback. While this approach is appreciated in the short-term it ultimately makes it more difficult for the leader to deliver difficult news when change or improvement is necessary.
  • Democratic leaders are well suited to the legal world since law firms are partnerships and the leader–the managing partner–is dealing with partners who perceive themselves as "equals" and it is therefore difficult for the leader to govern without allowing other partners to participate in the making of decisions and reaching a consensus among the partners regarding the appropriate strategic direction. Democratic leaders must have the patience to listen to others and the courage to allow the partners to have some level of autonomous control about how they pursue the goals and objectives laid out for them in the law firm strategy.
  • Pacesetting leaders are fairly common among law firms since managing partners are often high-achieving professionals focused on individual success as well as pushing other partners to seek and achieve lofty objectives for the firm itself. Pacesetting leaders have little or no time for consultation or accepting feedback and are most likely to say "no, just get it done". They see other lawyers, partners and associates, as falling into one of two distinct categories: those that "get it" and those that don't and probably never will.
  • Commanding leaders direct the law firm with an iron fist–issuing directives without consultation, managing by fear and coercion and publicly criticizing those attorneys that are not measuring up to the performance levels set by the leader.

In another investigation of leadership styles among law firm leaders, the Hay Group, a global organizational and human resources consulting firm, studied 33 partners in a top-tier global law firm and compared the leadership styles used by the high-performing partners with respect to various measures (i.e., revenue, strength of client relationships and substantive skills) to those of their colleagues whose performance was considered to be "average".  Data on each of the partners was compiled from assessments made by associates who had worked with the partners on various matters and some of the major findings of the study included the following:

  • High-performing partners used a broader range of leadership styles than their colleagues in the average group. In fact, almost 70% of the high-performing partners used four or more of the leadership styles.
  • High-performing partners were more likely to use the Visionary, Democratic and Coaching leadership styles. Specific behaviors included providing more information and context to other partners and associates, seeking opinions from other partners and associates before making decisions and participating in mentoring activities to maximize long-term development.
  • High-performing partners had learned to avoid the disruption behaviors of Pacesetter leaders such as setting unattainable goals for associates and micromanaging the tasks that had been delegated to associates.
  • While high-performing partners did use the Commanding style from time-to-time–issuing specific instructions with a strong indication that immediate action was expected–they also made an effort to coach those receiving the "commands" and make sure that they understood why the particular action, and the accompanying timetable, was needed. In contrast, average partners used the Commanding style primarily to intimidate and discourage associates.

For further discussion of law firm leadership, see the Chapter 3 on “Law Firm Leadership” in A. Gutterman (Ed.), Hildebrandt Handbook of Law Firm Management (Eagan MN: Thomson Reuters).

For more on Goleman's musing on leadership capabilities and styles, click here to download a complimentary excerpt from the Growth-Oriented Entrepreneur's Guide to Leadership written by Alan Gutterman and published by the Growth-Oriented Entrepreneurship Project.

Sources: L. Richard and M. Sirkin, “Six Styles: How Will You Handle Your Firm's Reins?”, Law Practice (December 2008), 32-34; Hay Group, The Case for Lawyers Who Lead (Philadelphia, PA, August 18, 2005); and D. Goleman, “Leadership That Gets Results”, Harvard Business Review, March-April 2000, 78-90. 

 

6
Jul

Practicing Leadership

When formal interest in the study of leadership first began in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the so-called “great man” theory, which assumed that certain individual characteristics or traits could be found in leaders but not in non-leaders and that those characteristics could not be developed but must be inherited, was quite popular and many assumed that leaders were simply “born and not made”.  As time passed, however, the consensus within the community of leadership scholars and consultants shifted significantly to the current working proposition that while some appeal do indeed appear to be natural leaders from birth it is nonetheless possible for many others who have sufficient desire and willpower to develop into leaders by following a continuous process of work, self-study, education, training and experience. 

Stogdill observed “there are almost as many different definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept” and there is no apparent limit to the creativity of researchers, management consultants and actual practitioners in devising definitions and conceptions of leadership.  Bass, one of the most well-known of the modern scholars and pundits on leadership, argued that leadership was a “universal phenomenon” that could be defined and described as “an interaction between two or more members of a group that often involves a structuring or restructuring of the situation and the perception and expectations of the members”.  A survey of other definitions and conceptualizations of leadership uncovers several common themes: the leader as a “person”, including his or her traits and personality characteristics; the leader as an instrument of facilitating the needs and desires of the group of followers; leadership as an emerging effect of interaction; leadership as a process of influencing change in the conduct of people and motivating them to embrace and strive for specific goals; and leadership as a set of specific acts and behaviors that a person engages in while serving as a leader and attempting to direct and coordinate the work of his or her followers.

In practice, leadership is more than just personal traits and attributes or issuing directives from a list and, in fact, the reality is that leaders must be able to mix creative visioning with the often difficult and time-consuming tasks that must be completed to engage followers and enlist their support to move their organizations, and themselves, through turbulent changes.  Practicing leadership begins by recognizing that four primary factors must be considered:

  • The “leader”, who must understand who he or she is and what he or she knows and realize that his or her success is dependent on the leader’s ability to build trust and confidence among the followers and convince them to follow the leader’s directives.
  • The “followers”, who all have their own needs and require different styles of leadership that can only be identified if a leader is attuned to understanding human nature and the factors behind the needs, emotions and motivations of the followers.
  • The form and content of “communications” between the leader and his or her followers, which is interactive (i.e., two-way), frequently non-verbal and central to the development and maintenance of effective relationships.
  • The “situation” or “context”, which determines the actions that should be taken by the leader and the style that the leader should employ.

Each of these factors is subject to a variety of forces that may impact the choices that a leader makes regarding his or her behaviors.  For example, while the idea that a person must have certain inherited traits in order to be a leader has fallen into disrepute, the personality characteristics of the leader will invariably come into play as he or she accesses problems and opportunities and decides what steps need to be taken in working with followers.  Other forces that will likely be relevant include the skills and experiences of the followers and how they interact with one another; the history, internal culture and structure of the organization; the societal culture in which the organization operates; and competitive conditions, particularly the strategies being used by peer organizations to motivate their employees.  Leaders must approach these factors, and the forces that influence them, with a solid analytical framework that can be referenced from time-to-time to ensure that they are paying attention to the things that really matter.  A framework suggested by surveying the literature on leadership might include several elements discussed in more detail in this Part: the requisite “skill set”, which should be constructed and nurtured by reference to the appropriate performance imperatives for executive leadership; the roles and activities expected from an effective leader; personality traits and attributes which can be learned and perfected by persons aspiring to leadership positions; and styles of leadership, which encompass the strategies used by leaders to engage with their followers.

Emphasis on “performance imperatives” was stressed by Zaccaro and Klimoski, who counseled leaders about the importance of remembering the context of their actions as leaders and suggested that this could be accomplished by continuously assessing and developing the following categories of skills: cognitive, social, personal, political, technological, financial and senior staffing.  Specific questions for leaders include:   

  • Does the leader have the requisite cognitive skills to effectively scan expansive and relatively unstructured external environments, process and make sense of the information collected from those scanning activities, and use that information to solve problems and forge long-term strategies?
  • Does the leader have the social skills and competencies that are necessary and appropriate to forge and manage the relationships that are relevant to his or her position within the organizational hierarchy? 
  • Does the leader have the personal skills and attributes necessary for timely and skillful execution of activities such as career and reputation management and acquisition of authority and influence? 
  • Does the leader have the requisite political skills for acquisition of power, including powers of persuasion; timely and judicious use of power, including the ability to handle and resolve conflicts and build coalitions?
  • Does the leader have the skills necessary for coping with the dramatic and sweeping effects that technological advances have had on the way organizations operate and compete and the operational environment in which leaders must operate? 
  • Does the leader have the skills and tools necessary to successfully develop, implement, monitor and adjust long- and short-term financial goals and objectives and strategies? 
  • Does the leader seek and hire candidates for positions at the senior staffing level in the organization, including other members of the executive team when the leader is the CEO, who possess, or can easily and quickly acquire, the skills, dispositions and capabilities required to respond appropriately to the demands associated with the above-described performance imperatives?

While leaders can be distinguished from managers, leaders nonetheless are responsible for a number of the same functions typically categorized as “managerial” such as setting goals and designing strategic plans to achieve those goals, communicating directives to other members of the organization, overseeing execution of the organizational strategy and setting guidelines for motivating organizational members and assessing their performance.  The specific roles and activities of a particular leader will vary depending on where he or she is located within the organizational hierarchy and will also be influenced by other factors such as the type of business engaged in by the organization, the environmental conditions that the organization is facing, the stage of the organization’s development, and the leader’s role in the launch of the organization (e.g., a “founder”).  However, all leaders, regardless of their position or other circumstances, should be prepared to engage in certain core roles and activities including selecting and defining goals and objectives for the organization and designing strategic plans to achieve those goals and objectives; communicating ideas about their vision for the organization and providing directions to other members of the organization regarding actions to be taken to realize the vision; designing and implementing an  effective organizational structure that promotes efficient flow of information and collaboration among members of the organization; implementing human resources management practices that support their vision and provide members of the organization with access to training necessary to maintain and improve the skills required for them to positively participate in the execution of the vision; and engaging in behaviors that support organizational members and enhance their feelings of personal worth and importance.

There is no doubt that extensive resources have been devoted to the search for traits and attributes of effective leaders and, as mentioned above, a person seeking to become a leader need not despair if it all does not seem to come naturally.  The question, or course, is identifying the specific personality traits and attributes that are most closely aligned with effective leadership.  Answers provided by researchers include emotional self-awareness; self-control; credibility; trustworthiness and integrity; adaptability; achievement orientation and ambition; a strong desire to influence and lead others and willingness to assume responsibility; the ability to use power intelligently to achieve desire goals; social awareness and empathy; social skills and ability to build relationships and promote cooperation; relevant cognitive ability (i.e., strong analytical ability, good judgment and the capacity to think strategically and multi-dimensionally); and a high degree of task-related knowledge about the organization, industry and technical matters.

Finally, the form and content of communications between the leader and the followers, and among the followers themselves, are heavily dependent on the leader’s chosen “leadership style”, which has been defined as “the manner and approach of providing direction, motivating people and achieving objectives”. While there a number of different models of leadership style, three fundamental dimensions are often represented: the leader’s approach to influencing the behavior of his or her followers; the manner in which decisions regarding the direction of the group are made, with a specific emphasis on the level of participation offered to followers; and the balance struck between goal attainment and maintaining harmony within the group (sometimes referred to as group “maintenance”).  For example, two alternative approaches to influencing the behavior of follows are the transactional leadership, which views the leader-follower relationship as a process of exchange, and transformational leadership, which relies on the leader’s ability to communicate a clear and acceptable vision and related goals that engender intense emotion among followers that motivates them to buy into and pursue the leader’s vision.  Contrasting styles for decision-making are found when distinguishing authoritarian (autocratic) and participative (democratic) leaders. The balance between goals and maintenance is emphasized in those models that analyze the degree to which the leader exhibits task and/or relationship orientations in his or her interactions with followers (e.g., “Country Club Leadership”, with a high concern for people and low concern for production, versus “Produce or Perish Leadership”, with a low concern for people and high concern for production).  While leadership styles are often introduced as static and fixed, the reality is that appropriate leadership styles do tend to change as time goes by and the leader must be able and willing to attempt to change his or her style or step aside in favor of someone else who is better prepared to provide the right style for the particular situation.

2
Jul

Updated & Expanded Coverage of Attorney-Client Relationships

This month’s Business Counselor Update includes updated and expanded coverage of attorney-client relationships.  The library now includes three chapters on the subject beginning with Collecting Information on Prospective Clients (Ch. 1) and then continuing with chapters focusing on Establishing Attorney-Client Relationships (Ch. 2) and Building and Managing Client Relationships (Ch. 3).  Each chapter has an extensive library of forms and checklists and detailed commentary and practical aspects of setting up and maintaining mutually satisfying relationships with your clients.  Key topics include collecting and analyzing information regarding prospective clients, structuring attorney-client fee arrangements and drafting effective and clear engagement letters and conflict of interest waivers, and strategies and practices for building client trust and maintaining continuous and clear communications with clients.