A recent study conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership found that effective leadership has changed over the last five years. Eighty-four percent (84%) of those polled said leaders today are valued for collaboration skills, such as building and mending relationships, rather than solitary heroics, the standard five years ago. Specifically important is being able to "enhance co-worker relationships." This change is due, according to those surveyed, to the more far-flung demands of leadership, which often go beyond an individual’s capability, creating a need to work interdependently with others across boundaries—geographic, language, cultural, and expertise.
Law firm and law departments would do well to take note of this study– "leader" is often a designation born out of unrelated circumstances– a lawyer has extra time, was good at revenue production so will maybe be good at this too, or is simply senior, none of which relates to his or her ability to build a collaborative organization that supports individuals and teams.
In a recent interview, Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ and more recently Social Intelligence, commented on the error many make in choosing leadership: "Too many organizations are rather naive about the ingredients of leadership and make the classic mistake of assuming that someone who is an outstanding individual contributor would therefore be an outstanding leader. If they’re an outstanding individual contributor, keep them as an individual contributor. Give them a raise," he says emphatically.
This study brings that point home in spades.