Setting a good example

Bowman Brown tries always
to lead by example, whether it’s by staying late, working
weekends or talking with clients
over lunch to learn about their
needs.

And so that his employees can
see his example and learn from
it, Bowman’s door is always
open, creating an open atmosphere where the 489 employees
at Shutts & Bowen LLP are free
to come and talk with him about
anything that might be going on
at the nearly 100-year-old law
firm. And while leading by example and creating an open environment are critical to being a
good leader, there are other
things, as well.

“You need a vision, an evolved
idea of where you want to go with
your business,” says the partner
and chairman of the executive
committee. “You certainly need
patience because, as you know,
things are not always going to go
as you hope they’ll go.”

Smart Business spoke with
Bowman about how to develop a
vision for your company, lead by
example and create a friendly,
open environment.

Learn everything you can about
your environment.
You need to
be aware of the environment
and the opportunities within
the markets where you operate
and you’d like to operate.

Spend time to become well
acquainted with your environment, the markets, the customer base and their needs.
Evaluate your resources —
both those you have and those
you need to take advantage of
— and opportunities in the
markets.

I talk to a lot of people. There
isn’t a day that goes by where
I’m not having lunch with some
businessperson and learn something about their business, the
market or our clients. You have
to commit a lot of time to staying in touch with things that are
germane to your business,
what’s going on with competitors and how they’re doing and
how they’re doing it. If you stay
in touch, you have an evolved
idea of what your customers
need, how you can be helpful
and how your resources allow
you to help support or satisfy
their needs. Get feedback from
your employees as to what they
see and have them be attuned
to market conditions and trends
and needs of the clients as they
evolve.

It’s hard to survive without a
vision, because if you don’t
have a good understanding of
the market you’re in, the market you want to be in and your
clients’ needs, you’re toast. Not
only is there a benefit, but it’s
essential for long-term survival.

Create an open and respectful
environment.
If people have
ideas, complaints or issues and
we hear those, we try to be
receptive to make sure that
people understand we’re interested in hearing what they have
to say. We try to make clear
what we’re seeing as managers
and ask them for feedback and
participation in decisions as to
where the opportunities are and
what trends are developing.

If people feel you respect and
like them, [are] respectful of
where they fit into the organization and respect their contribution, they’re more inclined to
feel a part of the team, want to
be part of the team, offer suggestions and look for ways to
move the ball forward.

It starts with liking them. If
people like to come to work,
they do a better job and they’re
more willing to try to contribute. It’s hard to create it if
you don’t have the basic interest in the people you work with
and their well-being.

When people feel good about
themselves and their work, they’re much more productive
and relate better to customers.
It creates a much better atmosphere than if they’re feeling
pressed and restricted. A
friendly, caring atmosphere
goes a long way to making people feel good and wanting to be
productive.

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