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Most lawyers pass quickly through the ranks, from clerk or summer associate, through junior associates and beyond. Even the most junior must, at times, give directions to secretaries, paralegals, copy staff and others. Eventually, they begin to supervise teams. In the process, they must learn to manage people, to accomplish their own objectives, and to ensure that the interests of clients are properly served. But, for many junior lawyers (and even some senior lawyers) discomfort can arise in this new managerial position. As lawyers begin to take on more responsibility, they must, of necessity, begin to distinguish between their roles as colleagues, friends and “buddies” to other lawyers and staff members, and their role as supervisors and “bosses.” This article addresses some points that may smooth adjustment to the new managerial role. WHY ME? No one receives managerial responsibility merely because of age, intelligence or some other characteristic that supposedly makes them “better” than anyone else in the organization. Rather, they are given such responsibility because of their potential and their willingness to take on the duties of a manager. This simple truth suggests some important first principles of management: • Humility helps. Recognize that you do not know everything about being a good manager. Be prepared to make some mistakes, and admit them when they occur. • Review your own experiences with managers. Recall the best and worst of them, and identify the characteristics and habits you found most helpful (or unhelpful). Make a list of personal goals for your own success as a manager. • Do some research. Talk to others you find who model good management behavior and success. Ask them for some pointers, and use them to gain feedback on your own plans and efforts. KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL Generally, most effective managers aim to maximize the success of their teams, not to demonstrate their own talents, or achieve universal popularity. Teams thrive when given the right combination of guidance and freedom. Consider: • Management is a team sport. Essential elements of the manager’s role include keeping the team well-informed of developments that may affect the work, and soliciting input from the team to identify the best ways to manage the project toward its intended outcome. Secretive, isolated team leaders rarely succeed. • Teams rise to challenges. Effective managers recognize the harder elements of a project, and instill confidence that such challenges can be overcome. They also praise hard work when it occurs. • Micro-managing rarely works. The effective manager must understand the requirements to complete a project successfully, but should not become so immersed in the details that the team cannot function on its own. The manager must delegate, and must encourage others to work independently. FRIENDLY TO ALL, NOT EVERYBODY’S BEST FRIEND No manager can be best friends with every team member. And best friend status should not be the aim of the manager. Rather, the manager’s goal is to maintain a friendly, professional relationship with everyone on the team. This means: • Solicit comments equally. Encourage all team members to speak up in meetings, to provide input and express their views. Resist “demonizing” or marginalizing anyone. Discourage others who do. Avoid secret meetings with favored team members. • Enforce rules equally. Become familiar with firm policies, and follow them (for yourself, and for members of your team). Learn to say “no,” citing the pertinent rule(s). Set reasonable standards for your team (e.g., show up on time for meetings) and enforce those standards equally among team members. Gentle reminders, such as “you made us all wait an extra ten minutes to start this meeting” are best for minor infractions. More serious misbehavior may require private discussion, but should not be ignored, even when a “friend” on the team is involved. • Show respect (and humanity) to all. Your co-workers are people. They have families and personal lives. They experience joys and sorrows. They have needs and aspirations. Within the bounds of propriety, encourage everyone on your team to feel that they can share with you (and with the team as a whole, if they like) what may be important in their lives. Respect the privacy of those who do not wish to do so. • Provide candid feedback, equally. Playing “favorites” in annual (and other) reviews, or white-washing perceived problems, does a disservice to the firm, and ultimately detracts from your credibility as a manager. Constructive, candid feeback, moreover, offers the surest means to help team members achieve their own goals of self-improvement. AVOID THE WORST Although few strict rules apply to every managerial situation, most managers have a “I know it when I see it” sense of what they must never do, on pain of (at least) losing the ability to serve as an effective manager. Among the most basic concerns: • Do not engage in illegal behavior, and do not tolerate those who do. Sexual, racial and other forms of harassment have no place in the workplace. Nor do violence, threats or other types of intimidation. Illegal drugs, alcohol misuse, theft and other illegal behaviors also require immediate, effective sanction. Take these matters to the appropriate authorities within the firm, without hesitation. • Eschew entanglements. Managers who are romantically involved with their team members, who lend money to (or borrow money from) team members, or who “look the other way” or keep secrets are asking for trouble. Any form of preferential treatment, especially one so stark, inevitably undermines the manager’s authority and ability to manage. MAINTAIN PERSPECTIVE Perhaps the most subtle danger to junior managers is the sense that every management opportunity is a “make or break” situation, and that every management decision is a choice between personal friendship and effective management. It rarely is. Maintain your perspective. Most early management responsibilities are relatively undemanding, and relatively uncomplicated. Still, you will make mistakes. You will need to learn, and grow, as a manager. But there is more to life than your job. Keep up your relationships with family and friends outside the firm. Nourish your nonwork activities (athletics, hobbies, studies, public service, spiritual endeavors and whatever else sustains you as a person). Strive to become a whole, mature person first, and a great manager second. Steven C. Bennett is a partner at Jones Day in New York City. The views expressed are solely those of the author, and should not be attributed to the author’s firm, or its clients.

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