How To Be a Great Leader People Want to Follow … Even Through Crisis and Uncertainty

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COVID-19 (coronavirus) is affecting our economy in all sorts of different ways.  BUT THIS IS NOT UNPRECEDENTED. Make no mistake about it. This is very much precedented. Some law firms are going to emerge on the other side of this whole thing much stronger, with better client relationships, more referral sources and more collaborative vendors. Other law firms aren’t going to emerge on the other side of this … at all.

Everything happens in a rhythm. We know, based on history, that life WILL be restored to normal in the near future. We also know that a crisis like this WILL happen again.



So how you handle this NOW will determine how you fare not just through THIS crisis, but through the next. If you want to protect your family and what you’ve built, it’s going to take more than rigorous hand-washing and social distancing.

It’s going to take LEADERSHIP, disciplined thinking and a long-term vision for where you want your business to be a year from now. This is not the time to freeze. It is the time to take control and charge ahead.

It’s time to become the kind of great leader that great people want to follow!


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Leadership Makes a Difference

I’m committed to helping small law firm owners build thriving businesses. We know that your businesses can’t run without the amazing teams you employ that take care of the work and clients day-in and day-out. If you take care of your staff, they will take care of your clients. And if your staff and your clients are taken care of, YOU and your bank account will be taken care of too.

What’s important to remember however, is that there is a difference between being a boss and being a leader and a profitable law firm requires the latter.

As you step into the role of LEADER, you will increase the growth of your business by making all the parts run on time and in tandem, which stops the revolving door of employees and makes them feel safe and valued, which increases employee engagement, satisfaction and retention.

Leadership is the key to having a firm that runs like a well-oiled machine no matter what’s happening externally!

Disciplined Thinking

Over the years, we have helped hundreds of law firm owners through every kind of crisis — natural disasters that threatened to knock out power for months, the financial meltdown in 2008, public health issues, and even terrorist concerns.


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So, while managing a law firm through an unexpected crisis may be new for you, it’s not new for us. And while you are likely a smart, sophisticated lawyer, there is nothing wrong with admitting this is new territory. In fact, it’s our responsibility as business owners to admit that we don’t know what we don’t know.

And what we’ve seen in our work is that the law firm owners who get help and learn to be the level-headed leader that their staff needs fare infinitely better than the law firm owners who run scared, make short-sighted decisions and lay people off.

Fear is at an all-time high right now. So disciplined thinking is your friend.

Fear can, if not managed, throw us into a short-sighted form of decision-making based on temporary feelings. The long-term consequences of short-term decision making can sabotage everything you’ve built and completely kill your credibility as a leader.

Your staff is looking to YOU.

They are waiting for you to direct the narrative. How you respond NOW will determine who sticks around, how productive they are, how positive their mindset is, how well they serve your clients and ultimately, how healthy your law firm is at the end of this.

4 Traits of Great Leaders

Here are four traits of a leader that I’ve seen make a massive difference in our client firms, especially during times of crisis.


Your staff is scared. Every time they turn on the TV, they are bombarded with unemployment statistics. They need to know their jobs are safe. How can you give them that reassurance? By being confident yourself. And how do you get confident? By spotting the opportunities within this crisis. What a crisis does is shine a light on problems people didn’t know they had. So, this is the perfect time for you to solve more problems for more people, thereby growing your business and securing your staff.


You’ve probably never had to manage a remote staff and your staff has probably never had to learn how to do their jobs remotely. This is why clarity is key to keeping your machine running smoothly. Clarify job descriptions and accountability checks so that everyone knows what’s expected. Create simple performance review systems and “touch base” times so that everyone on staff is empowered to self-manage and motivated to meet their KPIs.


There will be questions. This is new for everyone. Stay available. Show that you understand the need for a learning curve. Communicate the new benefits of your remote culture to employees so that they continue to self-identify as part of the bigger mission and enthusiastically work toward goals that serve your firm.


This is an important time for Situational Leadership, tailoring your management style to match your employees’ values, skillsets and temperaments. Everyone will respond emotionally to the coronavirus crisis in a different way.

Show your employees that you understand and are willing to work with them to accommodate new needs at home. After all, we are all in this together.

The reality is, it’s a run-away train at this point. The coronavirus outbreak is going to do what it’s going to do to our economy — I won’t even get into the healthcare/medical impacts because I am not a medical expert.

But I can tell you what it’s NOT going to do. It’s NOT going to control my mindset. It’s NOT going to cripple my business and hurt my team. It’s NOT going to make me forget that I had a plan and a vision. It’s NOT going to make me abandon any mission I had and was passionate about before we heard the term coronavirus.

Because my staff, my clients and my family are counting on me. And yours are counting on YOU.

Head over to to find over 8 free Pandemic Growth Resources to help you be a better leader for your team and continue to navigate this new reality and successfully pivot your law firm’s plan to keep growing.

RJon Robins

RJon Robins founded How To MANAGE a Small Law Firm in 2008 with nothing except the support of his wife and co-founder, Alejandra Leibovich, and the experience he had from working as a Law Office Management Advisor for four years at the Florida Bar. Today How To MANAGE A Small Law Firm has grown to be the largest provider of outside C-Suite services for small law firms and has been named by the Inc. 5000 one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. for the last five years in a row.

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