What do the ABA, the Olympics, and Strengths Have In Common?

I’m back from several weeks of travel connected with a short vacation, the ABA Annual meeting, and client work in Colorado.  In between I’ve been enjoying snippets of the Olympics, and contemplating the relationship of coaches to competitors in individual events like gymnastics, diving, and track and field.

But first, a big Thank You to everyone who turned out for the panel I moderated on Building Better Lawyers in Chicago at the ABA Annual meeting last week.  I was joined by Professor Bill Henderson of the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University, Dr. Arin Reeves, JD, of Nextions consulting, and Scott Westfahl, Director of Professional Development for the 850 attorney law firm of Goodwin Procter LLP.  The conversation about how individuals and organizations can benefit from research identifying the competencies of effective lawyering was fastpaced, and the audience was full of questions.  We devoted a fair amount of time to talking about strengths and competencies, that is, balancing the time an attorney spends working to improve their weaknesses, versus leveraging their strengths.  As Scott noted, professionals must meet a specified level of competency in every key area, whether that’s analytical thinking, written skills, oral advocacy, client relationships, or hard work (or any of the other 21 competencies identified in the Berkeley research that Bill presented, or adopted as competencies by law firms or in-house departments).  But your ability to soar is driven largely by how you apply your strengths to your goals, versus trying to develop a weaker area, once you’ve achieved satisfactory competency.

Many of my executive coaching clients are surprised by this approach, but see great progress once they identify their strengths, and focus on operating more from their strengths to conquer the challenges they face.  And guess what, it’s not only more effective, it’s more fun.  Give it a try!

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