Foley Views Leadership Development as a Lifelong Journey

16 May 2022 Foley Career Perspectives Blog
Author(s): Anjali D. Desai

At Foley, we recognize that leadership development is a career-long pursuit built on the premise of behavior change. So last year, we set out to create a program that enables our attorneys at the senior counsel level to learn about leadership competencies in an experiential manner in small doses so they can start practicing new behaviors in real time.

As highlighted in our Legal Talent & Development 2021 Year in Review, this pilot program exposed emerging firm leaders to skill sets for leadership success and helped them to identify traits, characteristics, and behaviors that will allow them to maximize their own leadership effectiveness. It also strengthened their bonds with peers and got them thinking more deeply about the firm.

Effective leaders can have different styles, and can adapt them for different situations, but there are certain skills that every leader needs. This program intentionally provides many touchpoints for participants to work on building those skills and to connect with each other.

Foley’s Director of Coaching Anjali Desai designed and piloted the firm’s 2021 Leadership Development Program to provide a multimodal learning experience so participants could engage with the content in multiple ways to maximize their learning opportunities.

The program encompasses:

  • Live, interactive training sessions
  • Readings and reflections
  • Small group discussions
  • Behavioral assessment to identify communication styles
  • Individual coaching to help participants define their leadership development goals

Each live training session featured a different firm leader who shared their own leadership journey and insights to highlight how effective leaders rely on a common set of skills but have a variety of styles based on their individual strengths.

Small group discussions in between the live training sessions brought together a diverse group of participants from different practice areas, office locations, and backgrounds to take a deeper dive into each of the four topics and develop meaningful connections across the firm.

“In supporting this program, the firm is investing in the development of skill sets that emerging leaders need to navigate the constantly evolving and competitive marketplace for legal services,” Desai said. For 2021, the program centered on the following themes:

  • Leading Authentically
  • Communicating With Emotional Intelligence
  • Building High-Performing Teams
  • Influencing Stakeholders and Navigating Difficult Conversations

Participants were selected by the leaders of the firm’s Corporate, Intellectual Property, and Litigation departments. Selection criteria for this program included leadership potential and a demonstrated history of mentorship and stewardship within the firm.

“Law firms need people equipped to lead through change,” Desai said. “This program enables emerging leaders to gain exposure to those skill sets and develop essential inter-firm relationships.”

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