What are the critical personal attributes for achieving success?  Shalom Saar, with an M. A. and Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Administration from Harvard University, has the answer.  Saar is currently teaching leadership and management at MIT and serves as a visiting professor at the China Europe International Business School.  His clients range from mega-corporations to non-profit organizations around the world, and he is a frequent speaker.

Saar points out that there is no particular personality type that is marked to succeed, but that there are seven personal attributes correlated with success–all starting with "C".  Here is his list:

  • Conviction–also known as persistence in spite of setbacks, which many consider to be the most important indicator of success
  • Comprehension–accurate awareness of oneself and the business environment
  • Competency–delivering promised services and products
  • Communication–effectively connecting with employees, clients and suppliers
  • Compassion–extending kind understanding to others
  • Character–taking a stand on principle
  • Courage–bravery in thought and action

What can managers in the legal workplace take from this list?  While many legal managers can boast conviction and competency, in our experience the remainder of these attributes are less obviously strengths in legal leadership.  Particular challenges are comprehending the particularities of lawyers and the differences between them and their clients, and communicating effectively.  Compassion is not a hallmark attribute of lawyers, although it is one that lured many young people into law school.  Having the character and courage to not follow the legal pack can also be difficult for lawyers–we tend to move in herds.

Lawyers have arrived at a critical juncture where getting the right answer is no longer, if it ever was, the ticket to having a successful law practice. We, like other industries, must cultivate in our firm members the seven Cs of success. Devising a systemic plan for developing these important traits in your talent should be a top priority in these turbulent times.