While we often think of leaders as driving change, it is usually change that is the catalyst for leadership. Consider how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the workplace and the ways we interact with one another. These changes have been the most profound catalyst for leadership that I’ve experienced in my 30 years as a lawyer and business executive.
Leadership is pivotal to adapting to and leveraging change. As leaders we need to understand how changes impact our business and make thoughtful decisions on how we react to improve, rather than changing without purpose.
We need to create a vision and effectively communicate to everyone impacted to ensure buy-in and adoption. We also need to recognize that some initiatives take time, especially when displacing long-held procedures or policies, and remain committed to bringing that vision to fruition.
As lawyers, we understand that the law is constantly changing, and our role is to lead our clients and the community through the often complex process of justice. Just as we analyze changes in the law to chart the best path forward, we need to examine how new technologies can improve the practice of law.
“The role of technology here is not to support and enhance our old ways of working but to overhaul and often replace our practices of the past,” said Professor Richard Susskind, writing on the future of the courts for the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School.
In my role leading Law Bulletin Media, I’ve had to understand how the changes caused by the pandemic have impacted our staff and our customers. While we have been transitioning to a digital-first organization for some time, the pandemic drove increased adoption of our digital solutions.
Recognizing hybrid as the new norm for the workplace, we are researching and developing solutions to deliver more information more effectively to the legal profession.
GE executive Jack Welch advised leaders to “change before you have to.” Ideally, we have the luxury of time and resources to be able to plan a strategic vision. However, unexpected changes such as the pandemic or ever-present technology upgrades create opportunities for us to lead our organizations and communities to a better place.
In the coming pages, you’ll read legal leaders’ own words on how they aspired to leverage change for improvement. We hope you find it inspiring and informative as you look to the future — and to building a more perfect system of justice in Illinois.