Tough at the top – what makes an effective managing partner?

Tough at the top – what makes an effective managing partner?

What are the core characteristics of an effective managing partner?

First and foremost in today’s legal landscape, there is a need for leadership that has a realistic understanding of what the firm is (and is not). Leaders must have an inspirational vision of what the firm can make of itself, combined with the determination to achieve it. If you ask partners what they want most from their firms, many will say that they want to be in a firm which knows where it is going and is determined to get there.

The ability to manage change is equally necessary at a time of unprecedented and (for many) unsettling change within the legal profession. To succeed in doing this requires managing partners to provide pastoral support to their partners in order to build consensus as to the need for change, while at the same time keeping the partnership together and united in its purpose.

A managing partner can and should also become one of the best (if not the best) rainmakers in a firm. Managing partners should carry out a vital client-relationship management role with major clients, as well as taking a lead in business development and profile-raising.

A managing partner should also manage the day-to-day operations of the firm, with particular focus on finance, risk and getting the best out of a firm’s people. Whether the same or a different person performs this role will depend on a number of factors, including:

  1. the people available and willing to take on such tasks
  2. their experience and skills; and
  3. the size and needs of the firm.

The larger the firm, the greater the need to have a full-time managing partner responsible for the overall performance of the firm working with, for example, an executive senior partner or chairman who in turn is fulfilling some or all of the roles described above. Together they will be the key decision-makers within the firm.

How can different leadership styles affect the overall running of a firm?

The style of

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