Your people are your
handbrake or your

The “team” dividend

The structure and culture within a collection of people can be very different. With different results.

Your people are your hand-brake or your accelerator.

At one end of the spectrum you can have a true “team” structure and culture. The successful 2016 US Ryder Cup team achieved this – the legendary Tiger Woods was happy to carry the bags of other players on their practise rounds because he was thinking “team” not “Tiger”. The undefeated 1974 British Lions achieved this on their South African tour. When they won the test series, the team on the pitch turned to the rest of the squad on the side-lines and applauded them.

The behaviours here are obviously team-centric. These are not just groups of individuals. The results can be magnificent. It is great fun too.

At the other end of the spectrum, you can have groups of islands, with personal goals and self-centred behaviours.

The latter can produce some success, for some of the time. It can’t always be described as fun, and it can bring challenges.

During my management career, I have worked with numerous teams that tended towards the “islands” model where much work was undertaken – successfully and in collaboration with the team members – to move them towards the “team” model. Change was needed because the “islands” model usually wasn’t working on a number of levels. The results of this work were always very positive with uplifting results in human, service, and financial terms. Numerous teams across all work-types improved their positions as happier, client-focused, profitable ships.


Even within teams though there is still an individual dimension. Individuals want to see investment in them and to see opportunities for their own development and progression. These are key parts to talent development and retention.

There are numerous surveys on what makes people stay at a firm even where much higher salaries are available elsewhere. Key factors are how a person feels that their firm treats and values them and invests in them.

We introduced transparent career paths, and made these open to everyone, and we were constantly on the look-out for new, advanced roles for people who were demonstrating the correct attitude, drive, and moral fibre. I for one benefited from this approach during my career, so I know well the loyalty and drive it brings to a person – all of which ultimately benefits the business.

Your leaders and managers

The kind of change or boost we are talking about here does not start by accident and it does not continue on its own. It needs leaders and managers to constantly feed the fire.

Even the leaders or managers who are best in this area are sometimes side-tracked from the main event by the daily pressures of a law practice. That certainly happened to me, particularly as we grew. I have learned a lot here too from what I did right and what I did wrong.

An important part of inspiring and motivating people in a sustainable way therefore is to work with a firm’s management and middle management to make sure they are themselves inspired by the new fires that are raging, and that the key elements of their role in feeding the fire are maintained.

Working together with you

Working with a firm, its leaders, its managers, its teams, and its people, we can develop strengths in all of these areas. Whether a turnaround is needed or merely a refresh or a boost, progress can be made and results become evident within a short space of time.

Getting a group of people to come closer together and as a real team is truly uplifting, as is getting an already high performing team to change up a gear. I relish the prospect of working with a law firm’s people to better harness their combined power for the benefit of the business (which in turn of course benefits everyone in it).

Getting a group of people to come together as a team is truly uplifting

So, whether working with a firm’s Management team, its team leaders, or its teams and individuals, the skills and sector experience I bring (plus open communication with and the direct involvement of all people concerned), real change can be effected and inspiration and motivation brought, to keep a business sharp and heading in a good direction. Yes, it will help individuals to sign off their annual Competence Statement, but the real value will be in their development as lawyers, colleagues, and team members, and what all of these mean for the business.