SUPPORTING OTHERS’ PROFESSIONAL GROWTH: A LAWYER’S GUIDE TO BECOMING A CHEERLEADER

Bernadette Mcdonald

Are you a lawyer contemplating a shift in your career path? As you navigate your own professional journey, it’s essential to recognize the power of supporting and championing the growth of others. Becoming a cheerleader for your colleagues, mentees, and peers not only fosters a positive work culture but also contributes to a more fulfilling and rewarding career for everyone involved.

Here’s how you can find and be a cheerleader for other people’s professional development:

Cultivate Empathy and Understanding:

Start by cultivating empathy and understanding towards your colleagues’ aspirations, challenges, and career goals. Take the time to listen actively, ask questions, and offer support without judgment. By empathizing with their experiences, you can better appreciate their journey and provide more meaningful assistance. Showing an interest develops relationships and helps you see things from other perspectives. This can help you with your own development.

Offer Guidance and Mentorship:

Share your knowledge, insights, and experiences with others who are navigating their career paths. Offer to mentor junior associates, interns, or new hires, providing guidance, feedback, and encouragement along the way. Mentorship not only benefits the mentee but also allows you to refine your leadership skills and leave a lasting impact on future generations of professionals. Being able to offer support to your wider network also builds your professional reputation and authenticity and opens up your network even more. You never know where your next opportunity may come from so as a portfolio lawyer expanding your network increases the opportunities that come your way.

Celebrate Achievements and Milestones:

Recognize and celebrate the achievements, milestones, and successes of your colleagues and peers. Whether it’s a promotion, a successful project completion, or a personal accomplishment, take the time to acknowledge their efforts and express genuine appreciation for their hard work. Celebrating wins fosters a culture of positivity, camaraderie, and mutual support within your professional community. Whilst we don’t like to think of ourselves as competitive, legal practice has a relatively flat hierarchical structure where lawyers compete for promotion. We call it the tournament psyche where even our friends are still competition.  As a portfolio lawyer, you can leave behind those competitive elements of legal practice and instead work on cheerleading for others.

Advocate for Growth Opportunities:

Advocate for growth opportunities and advancement initiatives within your organization or professional network. One of the first elements of a portfolio career is often in learning and development. Champion the importance of continuing education, skill development, and career progression by encouraging others to pursue training programs, certifications, or leadership roles. Actively support initiatives that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, ensuring that everyone has equal access to opportunities for growth and development. by campaigning for training and development programs you can put yourself forward to arrange, design, and deliver. One small step and you are on your way.

Provide Constructive Feedback:

Offer constructive feedback and constructive criticism to help others improve and grow in their careers. Focus on specific behaviors or actions, provide actionable recommendations for improvement, and frame feedback in a supportive and encouraging manner. By offering constructive feedback, you empower others to recognize their strengths and areas for development, ultimately fostering their professional growth and success. This is a quid pro quo situation where you can then seek feedback to help your own career plans.

Foster a Culture of Collaboration:

Foster a culture of collaboration, teamwork, and mutual support within your professional community. Encourage knowledge sharing, idea exchange, and collaboration on projects and initiatives, creating opportunities for collective learning and growth. By working together towards common goals, you can leverage the diverse skills, perspectives, and experiences of your colleagues to achieve greater success and innovation. Being the central force of pulling together makes you the go-to person, the glue, and expands your network exponentially.

Lead by Example:

Lead by example and embody the qualities of a supportive and encouraging mentor and colleague. Demonstrate integrity, professionalism, and a commitment to excellence in your work, serving as a role model for others to emulate. By modeling positive behaviors and attitudes, you inspire others to strive for their best and create a culture of continuous improvement and growth. As the legal profession changes, the way we learn from others does too. Not that long ago we primarily learned our legal skills from a mentor, rather than a book. Now the profession is commercialized, and everyone is focused on their own work. Be available to help others and you will be surprised how many others see that authentic love of the law and approach you.  After all, being a portfolio lawyer is often seen as luck rather than design but we make our own luck by creating opportunities for ourselves.

As you embark on your own career journey, remember the profound impact you can have by being a cheerleader for others’ professional development. By cultivating empathy, offering guidance, celebrating achievements, advocating for growth opportunities, providing constructive feedback, fostering collaboration, and leading by example, you can contribute to a more supportive, inclusive, and fulfilling work environment for yourself and those around you. Together, let’s cheer each other on as we strive for success and fulfilment in our careers.

If you are thinking of designing your own legal portfolio and are not sure how or where to start, why not book an exploratory session with me Bernadette@thelawcoach.co.uk

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