How Smart Are You-Really?

<b>“Y</b>ou can never be too skinny or too rich” is an expression usually attributed to either Gloria Vanderbilt or the late Duchess of Windsor. While it may be an appropriate maxim for success in the general population, it doesn’t cut ice for lawyers. “You can never be too smart” is more likely on the minds of those who work and compete in a profession where solutions, advice, and sound judgement are the commodity base. <br/> <br/>But what are the “smarts” that distinguish star performers in this profession? How do you recognize them in the all too brief recruitment process and how do you grow and develop them to the greatest extent possible? We all know that the form of intelligence that gets people into law schools is academic (often called IQ) and that law schools chiefly select students with the best relative grades and LSAT scores. From law school to law firm, <br/>the initial and frequently most heavily relied upon selection criteria is again grades. Top law firms select top students from top schools. However, from point of entry to top revenue generator and/or star performing lawyer, the correlation between grades and success breaks down, as it does in all other professions. <br/> <br/>Most lawyers can recall at least one top ten percentile student in their graduating class who somehow never cashed in on his or her potential. What kind of intelligence or talent is needed to be a top legal performer? The answer to this question is the subject of this article. The working hypothesis, based on compelling research from other professions, is that the additional skills required for success are what have become known as Emotional Intelligence (EQ). With the assistance of Dr. Steven Stein and Multi-Health Systems Inc., distributors of the most widely used EQ assessment instrument, we tested this hypothesis.
How Smart Are You-Really?
“You can never be too skinny or too rich” is an expression usually attributed to either Gloria Vanderbilt or the late Duchess of Windsor. While it may be an appropriate maxim for success in the general population, it doesn’t cut ice for lawyers. “You can never be too smart” is more likely on the minds of those who work and compete in a profession where solutions, advice, and sound judgement are the commodity base.

But what are the “smarts” that distinguish star performers in this profession? How do you recognize them in the all too brief recruitment process and how do you grow and develop them to the greatest extent possible? We all know that the form of intelligence that gets people into law schools is academic (often called IQ) and that law schools chiefly select students with the best relative grades and LSAT scores. From law school to law firm,
the initial and frequently most heavily relied upon selection criteria is again grades. Top law firms select top students from top schools. However, from point of entry to top revenue generator and/or star performing lawyer, the correlation between grades and success breaks down, as it does in all other professions.

Most lawyers can recall at least one top ten percentile student in their graduating class who somehow never cashed in on his or her potential. What kind of intelligence or talent is needed to be a top legal performer? The answer to this question is the subject of this article. The working hypothesis, based on compelling research from other professions, is that the additional skills required for success are what have become known as Emotional Intelligence (EQ). With the assistance of Dr. Steven Stein and Multi-Health Systems Inc., distributors of the most widely used EQ assessment instrument, we tested this hypothesis.

What follows is a summary of an existing Canadian database of over 150 lawyers (the “general” population group), 15 subsequently identified star performers, and interviews with this latter group. While confidentiality prohibits disclosure of the identity of all members of the star performer group, we can advise that it includes such well-known and successful practitioners in both Toronto and Vancouver as Dale Lastman at Goodmans LLP, Jim Christie at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, Purdy Crawford, Q.C., at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, Don Jack at McDonald & Hayden, A. Keith Mitchell, Q.C., at Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy, and John Singleton, Q.C., at Singleton Urquhart. Our findings provide a most interesting perspective on what “smart” really is in the legal profession and what is required to convert “smarts” into sustained success. Here is the tip of the iceberg as the research continues.

First, top performers in the legal profession not only have high levels of IQ (academic or technical smarts), but they also have higher levels of EQ (defined and described below) than the general population of lawyers. Second, they have some EQ skills that are different from those of our general population group (150+) of lawyers. For example, they have stronger interpersonal skills (i.e. empathy). They are more likely to be practising law for the love of it (i.e. self-actualization). They can withstand more stress and manage their stress more effectively. They tend to be more optimistic in outlook. Third, while our sample size is too small to be definitive, a pattern emerges from this group which shows more senior (and older) stars as having higher levels of EQ than younger/less experienced associates. This is not surprising as research indicates that emotional intelligence increases generally with age and maturity. Older lawyers often worry about the quickness and freshness of “young blood lawyers”, yet EQ likely offers the best hedge against age as a liability in this profession. It also begs the question with respect to star performers, as to how much and how quickly EQ levels can be developed through awareness and coaching. It should be stressed that this initial research, including our interviews, raises more questions than answers. Nevertheless, the research does raise interesting and instructive possibilities around the whole issue of finding, keeping and growing top legal talent.

There are five areas of competence in EQ and fifteen skills that impact on how we adapt and survive in a constantly changing and often adverse environment, how we interact and get along with others, and how we make the most of what we’ve got (i.e. talent) to achieve a life that is most satisfying. Briefly these are:
1. Intrapersonal (how in touch we are with ourselves, feelings, talents, limitations):
• Emotional Self-Awareness—recognizing and under-
standing one’s own feelings;
• Assertiveness—ability to effectively express feelings
and preferences without aggression/hostility;
• Independence—ability to “self-start”, i.e. take initia-
tive and be self-directed;
• Self-Regard—positive self-acceptance (even with
• Self-Actualization—desire and ability to pursue and
achieve one’s full potential (i.e. love of law for the
sake of it).
2. Interpersonal (people skills):
• Empathy—understanding, reading and responding
to feelings/needs of others;
• Social Responsibility—being a contributing, con-
structive group or team member;
• Interpersonal Relationships—ability to establish
and maintain strong, trusting, open relationships
with others.
3. Adaptability (ability to adapt to one’s environment, including the challenges and opportunities it presents):
• Problem Solving (social, situational, and interper-
sonal—not technical);
• Reality Testing (objectivity, i.e. ability to see things
as they are vs. how we wish or fear);
• Flexibility (responsiveness to change including atti-
tude and behaviour).
4. Stress Management (ability to withstand and to deal with stress in positive ways):
• Stress Tolerance (choosing effective ways of mini-
mizing and counteracting effects of stress);
• Impulse Control (resisting and/or delaying impulses
and desire for immediate gratification).
5. General Mood (positive outlook—enjoyment of here and now):
• Happiness (self-satisfaction, enjoyment of life and
• Optimism (level of hope, posi-
tive outlook vs. pessimism,
ability to deal with adversity).

In terms of understanding “intelligence”, EQ is shaping up as one of the most significant breakthroughs of this new century. What IQ contributed to the 20th century, many believe EQ delivers and will exceed in the 21st. Research results from every age and occupational grouping are validating again and again the relationship between EQ and life-work success.

Daniel Goleman popularized Emotional Intelligence with his 1995 New York Times best-seller of the same title, but he didn’t invent it. EQ has, in fact, developed slowly, quietly, and cumulatively for more than 60 years. Many renowned academics and psychologists have contributed to this body of knowledge. These include David Wechler (one of the founders of IQ), Abraham Maslow, Howard Gardner and others. Jack Mayer and Peter Salovey are to be credited with first coining and defining the term Emotional Intelligence in 1990. Reuven Bar-On began development of the EQ-i in 1980. Dr. Steven Stein and Multi-Health Systems, the largest Canadian test publisher, have contributed much of the ongoing research and, in particular, research about star performers. The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success,the recent best-seller by Dr. Stein and Dr. Howard Book, provides a comprehensive update on EQ, its skill sets, and practical advice on how to identify and develop it.

Many of the research studies of the general population and professional disciplines provide provocative insights about who does and does not succeed in life and why. Several examples are noteworthy.
Harvard Grads
A study carried out by George Valliant and reported on by Dan Goleman in Emotional Intelligence followed the lives and careers of 95 Harvard graduates from the 1940’s through to their middle age. Researchers expected to find that those with the highest college test scores would have the greatest career success. Instead, they found that the individuals with the highest scores were not particularly successful compared to their lower-scoring peers in terms of salary, productivity, or status. Neither did they have the greatest life satisfaction or happiness in relationships.
Marshmallow Test—1960s
Dr. Walter Mischel of Stanford University worked with four-year-old children, most of whose parents were Stanford professors, graduate students and employees. To predict their future development, the children were all tested for IQ and personality factors.

The children were also given the following behavioural test. Each child was seated in a room with a single marshmallow on the table. The adult conducting the test informed the child that they had to run an errand but if the child waited until their return (in about 20 minutes) and did not eat the marshmallow, they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow. The children made their choices which Mischel recorded. He then followed up on these same children 12 to 14 years later.

The findings were surprising. First, the IQ and personality tests were poor predictors of future behaviour. Second, the children who gobbled the marshmallow before the return of the adult were having one or two problems, were less skilled in social situations and more prone to be stubborn and indecisive. The children who waited patiently for the second marshmallow not only had better grades, but they displayed better coping skills, more social skills, and were generally more successful. The simple marshmallow test turned out to be a significantly more accurate predictor of a child’s future success than IQ or personality scores.
Metropolitan Life
Dr. Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism, worked with a group of life insurance agents at Metropolitan Life in 1982. The goal was to help identify and predict who could successfully sell insurance. The reader should know that in life insurance, apparently nine out of ten prospects reject the sales pitch. Essentially, Seligman’s assessment of optimism showed that agents who scored in the top 10 per cent of optimism sold 88 per cent more than the most pessimistic 10 per cent.

In summary, study after study looking at successful work performance shows compelling and impressive results where people have high levels of EQ. A landmark study of “star performers” was carried out at Michigan State University which examined thousands of people in jobs ranging from postal workers to partners in corporate law firms. Job value brought to the table by “star performers” increased with the level of complexity of the work. For jobs of highest levels of complexity, including law, the value brought by top performers as compared to “average” performers was found to be a whopping 127 per cent more (eg. revenue, billable hours, et cetera). We all instinctively know the value of a top performer over an average performer, but a value output of 127 per cent brings the point home with a thud. It also serves as a loud wake-up call to those alpha-males who write off self-awareness, empathy, openness and other EQ attributes as simply touchy-feely mumbo-jumbo. We’re talking real money here.

“With very few exceptions, I have seldom met a highly successful lawyer who doesn’t have these skills,” says A. Keith Mitchell, Q.C., Managing Partner of Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy in Vancouver. “At the end of the day we are paid to give clients our best judgement; whether we are reading a decision or listening to a witness. We have to be able to reach down and grasp what is going on—why a lawyer puts a certain clause in and what he wants, needs or why a client is coming from that point of view. Judgement—that’s what we are paid for and it is much more than the technical legal points or facts.”

John Singleton, Q.C., senior partner at Singleton Urquhart, also in Vancouver, sees success in law today as having the “Right Stuff” to successfully adapt to a changing environment. The “Right Stuff” in law today, he says, requires a heavy dose of both raw intelligence and EQ. His list of EQ requirements includes being a self-starter (independence), strong interpersonal skills, commitment, and creativity. “Two lawyers go to see a client,” he says. “The first, a senior lawyer with grey hair, three piece suit, and a cigar goes to see a thirty five-year-old claims manager. The second turns up dressed casually, takes the claims manager out for a game, they have a beer and never talk law at all. Who do you think the claims manager prefers as his lawyer? It’s simple,” says Singleton, “other people have to like you, and if they don’t they are not going to give you their work on an ongoing basis.” Singleton goes on to add that, “You may think the example I just used is either atypical or stereotypical, practically from the 1950s. Let me tell you, I see it constantly. It amazes me.”

“EQ is very important,” says Jonathan Marsden of the Toronto-based legal search firm Marsden Nagata. “For in-house positions, clients will ask about interpersonal skills before academic and one of our clients, Teknion Furniture Systems Ltd., is actually using the Bar-On EQ-i with final candidates.” Marsden believes EQ is critical to retention of top talent. He also adds that his firm is actively looking at the EQ-i assessment and the value it brings to the recruitment process.

Peter Salovey, the Chairman of Psychology at Yale, sees EQ as an indispensable asset to the legal profession. “Law is human interaction in emotionally evocative climates,” he says. “Any lawyer who can understand what emotions are being presented and why is at a tremendous advantage.”

While lawyers and psychologists agree that EQ is important for success within the profession, it is still measured in a highly subjective fashion. As described by Caroline Carnerie, a consultant at Toronto-based legal recruiter ZSA, the process involves finding out if the candidate is the right “fit”, has the right chemistry, or synergy. According to Carnerie, the first criteria for many positions is still marks. However, the relative importance of EQ can vary depending on the kind of position. “Minders and finders definitely need higher levels of EQ,” she says, “as they bring clients in and have to sustain relationships.”

Exactly how valuable EQ is for success in the legal profession has yet to be fully tested. “It would be fascinating,” says Steven Stein, “to work with a firm, to test, develop and ultimately select for EQ, then correlate that to the firm revenue, client retention, lawyer retention, and other such success factors.” The look on his face tells you that this is the stuff Stein lives for.

There are in or about 70,000 practising lawyers in Canada. The EQ general population legal group database currently consists of 150 of these lawyers, which is hardly a representative sample. Nonetheless, 150 lawyers provide some interesting indicators. First, the EQ competencies of lawyers are about average (they score 102 while 66 per cent of the general population score between 85 and 115 on the EQ-i). In other words, while lawyers have higher IQ levels than the average population, they do not have more EQ. (On a positive note, they have higher EQ levels than physicians tested to date.)

An interesting possibility that one might draw from this early data lies in the question “What kind(s) of success might firms and/or individuals realize if the profession began to “select” for these skills?” The fifteen star performers who completed this assessment provide some good benchmarks. Another interesting question that one might ask is “Are the key EQ skills for lawyers different from other professional groups?” And for this question, the answer is yes. The profession of law, by its nature, tends to attract individuals who have relative strengths in independence, assertiveness, problem solving and reality testing. Areas of relative weakness include empathy, social responsibility and happiness. The Royal Jelly that separates stars from wannabes in this profession might well be these EQ strengths.

This is where things get most interesting. First we owe much gratitude to the 15 lawyers and students who agreed to complete the tests.

Imagine, for example, four lawyers all from the same firm (two senior partners, two young associates), who all have exactly the same top EQ score. Their empathy score indicates that they are in the top 20 percentile of the population in terms of their skills and behaviours in this area of competence. “Not possible, oxymoron, wuss firm,” are all comments that people in the non-legal community would likely make drawing on the stereotype of successful lawyers as being super aggressive.

But what if you were also told that this firm is generally acknowledged as one of the top performing heavyweight corporate practices in Toronto, and reputedly also one of the most profitable? While again for reasons of confidentiality we cannot disclose the identity of the firm, this sort of insight draws into sharp focus the importance of what is sometimes dismissively termed “airy-fairy” people skills.

The 15 top performing partners, associates and students in our selection of star performers share strengths with the general population legal group database. The critical difference is that they have higher levels of these skills. Most importantly, they have several skills that are different from other lawyers. Empathy and social responsibility, which are areas of relative weakness for most lawyers, are areas of significant strength for top performing lawyers. Additionally, they tend to be more self-actualized, optimistic and manage stress more effectively.

Dale Lastman at Goodmans LLP in Toronto doesn’t find the differences surprising at all. “These aren’t lawyer skills,” he explains, “they are skills that any successful person has. The difference between successful people and others is a matter of caring about what you do, and that is emotional. These are the things that separate you from a commoditized world and I have to believe that a big reason people retain me is because I care.”

Lastman offers an example of an elite class figure skater that the firm recently hired. “We didn’t really care about her marks,” he says, “because we knew that anyone who had the passion, determination and discipline to go to a cold rink day after day for hours of practice, in the hope of making it to a world-class level, is going to make it. We can teach her about the law, but she brings the caring and passion that will make her great.” What Lastman is referring to is actually the recruitment philosophy of a number of Fortune 500 companies who hire for character and values over experience. That is, they hire for what we would call EQ.

Cognitive psychologists continue to argue over how much of our intelligence is fixed or hard-wired. No one argues with the fact that environmental challenge and opportunity can play a significant role. The Flynn Effect, named after the renowned psychologist who tracked & noted it, indicates that IQ intelligence drifts upwards with each generation. There is general agreement that in North America and Western Europe, IQ scores are increasing generation by generation. Yet, it can work both ways. Emotional intelligence in US children is sadly declining, according to Daniel Goleman. Many researchers attribute this decline to the breakdown in family life and values, two parents working, and the effect of television, computers and other factors that cause isolation.

The good news according to Steven Stein and others is that EQ is highly coachable and more flexible than IQ. John Singleton, Q.C., in Vancouver has one of the highest EQ scores on record by MHS and so we asked him about it. “I have been conscious for some time of my mind being something that can and should be exercised,” he says. “Just look at what happens when people’s health significantly deteriorates or lawyers move from active practice into full retirement. The decline I’ve seen can be pretty scary.” Interestingly, Singleton consciously gives his mind an active workout on a daily basis. He recommends any and all thinking/problem solving exercises, meditation, yoga, avoiding alcohol, insufficient sleep and lots of physical exercise.

Purdy Crawford, Q.C., at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP is a firm believer that “emotional smarts” can and should be developed. “In 1985 when I went to Imasco,” he says, “I wasn’t really very sophisticated, but going from law into business has a very steep learning curve.” Not only has Crawford experienced his own growth and development in this area, he has seen the results that good 360° feedback, combined with developmental plans, can bring. “Ed Clark of Canada Trust is an example of someone who has been willing to listen to and accept feedback on his style and then put in the work it takes to develop it further,” Crawford says. “Clark is an excellent example of a high EQ leader today.”

Can the quality and quantity of leaders be improved through developing EQ skills? Purdy Crawford, who is actively involved in developing leadership in business and law, feels strongly that we both can and should.

“I’m just learning about EQ,” says Toronto litigator Don Jack (one of two lawyers used as examples by Drs. Stein and Book in The EQ Edge), “but even with the little I know, I can’t imagine why anyone would not want to develop it to the fullest extent possible. Its relationship to career success in any field is striking. I’m certainly working on strengthening my skills in this area.”

One of the reasons why individuals don’t work on their EQ skills is simply a lack of awareness about what it is and what it can do for them. Being aware is a good start but not enough. Twenty years of work experience has taught me what any organizational theory textbook will tell you. At any given time, only about 5 per cent of people are actively pursuing their dreams and aggressively taking charge of their own learning and development. If you happen to be someone in the 5 per cent, or about to join it, here’s the “so what” on EQ—how you can begin to strengthen what you have and develop some new behaviours and skills. Advice from textbooks or consultants is OK, but getting straight goods from role models one can relate to is usually more inspiring and helpful.

Do you know what your batting average is—how consistently you give the best possible response to situations such as the following? Spotting the right answers is almost too easy for smart people. The acid test comes when these kinds of questions are posed to others about you (as in 360° feedback). What would others say you would likely do, or have done, in the following situations?
1. You’ve been asked by a senior partner in another firm, who you respect, to provide counsel on a case that is high- stakes, high-profile and fraught with a number of serious issues. He advises you, confidentially, that the client, a well-known CEO, is a real problem. When you review the file, you realize there have been a number of serious errors in judgement on the part of your friend You would:
(a) Graciously decline explaining that you are appre-
ciative of the offer but currently tied up with a
major client issue of your own.
(b) Meet with your colleague alone, expressing your
concerns and the issues as you see them. Advise that
you will help as best you can provided he or she fully
supports actions and decisions you view as critical.
(c) Call the client confidentially. Outline the prob-
lems as you see them and your suggestions.
(d) Meet with both the client and your colleague.
Look for opportunities to turn the situation around.

2. An associate who is the daughter of an important client has been working in your practice group for about a year. While her work is technically satisfactory and she is very likeable, she seems to have an inability to see below the surface of issues. You have serious reservations about her ability to meet firm expectations. You are sitting down to do her review. You would:
(a) Unload her to another practice group.
(b) Do nothing. Give her an average review and
move on.
(c) Give her direct, honest feedback on both her
strengths and weaknesses. Raise the bar on expecta-
tions, being prepared to invest time in coaching or,
alternatively, helping her decide about other options.
(d) Tell her that while you like her, you can’t afford
“average” performers and that she should take the next
six months to seek out other opportunities.

3. Your firm is six months into a merger that looked like a great idea at the time and one that you lobbied hard for. There are problems arising almost daily and the tension level is high. You are beginning to have some serious doubts although outwardly you are still supportive. You would:
(a) Form a post-merger integration team with top
talent from both firms to objectively address the issues.
(b) Call it a day. Cut your losses and get out of the
(c) Talk with those you trust and begin to develop
alternative plans (i.e. an escape hatch).
(d) Tell yourself that these situations are complex
and require a lot of time and patience. Encourage oth-
ers to be patient.

4. You are tired, in a rush, and in the express line at the supermarket. As you stand there with your three items, you can see that the two people in front of you have far too many items. You would:
(a) Complain loudly to the person behind you.
(b) Point to the Express Line sign and ask the two
people in front of you how many items they have.
(c) Divert your attention to a magazine and/or move
to another line.
(d) Silently grumble and generally become agitated.

5. The lawyer on the other side of a case is someone you have never liked or respected. Now that you are at trial, he/she seizes every opportunity to attack you personally and openly. You would:
(a) Exercise all opportunities to strike back.
(b) Grin and bear it.
(c) For the most part ignore completely but strategi-
cally select an opportunity to fire a warning shot across
his/her bow—where it noticeably counts.
(d) Confront him/her directly.

6. You and your partners are in high-pressure merger discussions. Your firm feels very positive about this union. The managing partner of the other firm approaches you to advise that they are interested in some but not all of your firm’s members. They are prepared to make a very attractive offer to you and a select few. You would:
(a) Express your distaste for his ethics and decline.
(b) Rationalize by telling yourself that these are the
realities of a competitive market.
(c) Respond that assessing the talent pool of both
firms should be a priority in the due diligence process.
(d) Talk with other lawyers on the “wanted” list to
see how they feel.

7. Your firm is suggesting 360° feedback for all practice group leaders as a way of accelerating performance. You know there are some problems in the practice group that you lead. You would:
(a) Indicate that you fully support this process and
would like to ensure that the proper parameters are in
place for feedback to be handled in a positive manner
(as opposed to a roast).
(b) Buy time. Suggest that you agree in principle and
that since your group is so busy right now, other groups
should start.
(c) Suspect that this is some kind of plot to make you
look bad. Shoot it down.
(d) Say yes enthusiastically and be as friendly as pos-
sible to those in your group.

Answers on page 103
Having strong intrapersonal skills (self-awareness, self-regard, independence, etc.) is not genetic or a matter of luck. People who score high in these skills take the initiative to find out about their strengths and weaknesses by putting themselves in challenging situations, asking others for feedback, accepting feedback and confronting their potential blind spots.

We all like to think that we get along well with others, that we are good team players, and active contributing members of our community. But the fact is that some of us are not as good as we could be. Here are some questions you should be asking yourself (or potential recruits) to assess the real strength of your interpersonal skills.
1. Are you a rainmaker—why or why not?
2. How many long-lasting friendships and client relationships do you have?
3. How much of your work comes to you from repeat clients and/or referrals from these clients?
4. How often do others seek you out and confide in you? Are you among the first to know about things or the last?
5. How involved are you in matters, both in the firm and outside, other than actual work? What do you volunteer for?
6. Are you actively coaching and mentoring others?
7. Can you be fair, firm and friendly at the same time?
“It’s all about people, and all problems are human in origin,” are statements we heard from every top performing lawyer we interviewed. Interpersonal skill is not about being “nice”. Top performers effectively stand their ground, but they do it without attacking the person.

“Going from law school to articling in a big firm, involves crossing a major adaptability threshold,” says Casey Halladay, who is an articling student with Toronto’s McMillan Binch. “As a law student, you are responsible only to yourself. Your successes and failures impact no one but you. At a big firm, you are part of a team and people are depending on you to ‘get it done’—your success depends on building relationships with staff, clients, and other lawyers. Success leads to greater trust, and in turn, greater responsibility.” Halladay goes on to add: “you have to put aside any ego, and get used to asking a lot of questions. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know the answer, but definitely be active in finding that answer. I’m fortunate to be in an environment where people want to help me learn. Learning new information, and then applying it on the fly, is essential.”

Each year when articling students arrive at Toronto’s McDonald & Hayden they get a different kind of pep talk from at least one of the senior partners. “I sit them down and tell them to take a good look around this profession,” says Don Jack. “A lot of people my age just look like shit. If you want to stay on top, you have to avoid the burnout that gets too many great lawyers. I coach them in life-skills,” says Jack, “because practice can become overwhelming and the single focus of their life all too easily. I’ve seen everything,” he adds. “Divorces, heart attacks, alcoholism, you name it. Nothing is worth that and, more importantly, you can’t stay on top, however good you are, if you are not mentally and physically strong.” Jack advises students to start good habits early, to develop hobbies and interests outside of law, to get a fitness plan and follow it and to plan vacations well in advance so they have things to look forward to.

“One of the truly amazing things about Dale Lastman,” says Michael Bregman, “is the fact that he will always look for and focus everyone on the way to make something happen instead of all the reasons it won’t. He will do that even when it means taking his own client aside when their position on something doesn’t make sense.” Bregman, who is the Chairman of Second Cup Ltd. and a client, goes on to wryly note, “he has taken me aside.” Dale Lastman is not only the only lawyer in the star performer group who scores high in optimism; almost all fifteen members of this group are distinguishable by their high levels of this quality. Where does it come from?

Optimism is closely linked to self-actualization and other intrapersonal skills. It is logical, then, that anyone who is doing the work they do because they really love it and who feels good about themselves (warts and all) would have a positive outlook.

According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: “The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a ‘voluntary effort’ to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”

Csikszentmihalyi, the former Chairman of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago, is renowned not only for his best selling book Flow, but also for having completed the first major scientific study of happiness. In one part of his study, participants were first interviewed about their happiest moments and/or peak life experiences. They were then asked to wear beepers which they were to press when they were experiencing one of these peak moments.

The initial interview responses predicted that the participants happiest moments would occur during such situations as getting married, a promotion, vacations, time with children, and so forth. Researchers were astonished to find, however, that the highest occasion of “beeper pushing” came when participants broke through a tough, absorbing challenge that they cared deeply about. Often, this was a work challenge, a hobby, or a personal triumph over a tough obstacle.

Csikszentmihalyi’s breakthrough on happiness is that it is neither fleeting nor serendipitous. Rather, it is attached to a strong sense of purpose and continuous achievement of meaningful goals.

Lawyers who believe in what they do and who love what they do, simply don’t view it as work. “I love what I do,” says Keith Mitchell. “This isn’t work,” says Dale Lastman.

Emotional Intelligence is not an alternative or substitute for IQ. It is simply a bundle of skills that provide another form of intelligence. Lawyers need both. The danger with EQ, as with anything that becomes overly popularized, is that it becomes trivialized. “Have you got it or got enough,” are the least relevant questions to be asked. What individuals can and should do is take stock of what their strengths and weaknesses are and what one or two areas they can increase, improve or better leverage. A good starting point is learning to recognize EQ behaviours in oneself and others and to begin to connect these behaviours to tangible examples of success.

There is a wonderful quote to the effect that “There is more law in the end of a policeman’s nightstick than in a decision of the Supreme Court.” No argument. Similarly, there are more “street smarts” in EQ than IQ. Frankly, given the market professional service firms currently face, I’d pay a lot of attention to street smarts.

Irene Taylor is a senior leadership consultant who has worked with top performing leaders for over 20 years. Readers are invited to forward questions and comments to [email protected].

1 (b) Recognize that if the colleague trusts and respects you, you are in the best position to help. However, make sure he/she signs on to your solutions.
2 (c) Superior leaders never compromise on standards or expectations. Keep the heat on and let her choose.
3 (a) Once a merger is done, the real work begins. Consider all options.
4 (c) Don’t sweat the small stuff. Life is full of petty annoyances; successful adaptation requires learning to control instinctive impulses. Pick your battles carefully.
5 (c) Such individuals are psychologically profiled as “snipers”. Confrontation usually fuels them on. The best way to get their attention is to take the wind out of their sails.
6 (c) Recognize that people often make less than perfect judgements when under stress. Do not confuse with ethics. Suggest a logical best-for-all solution.
7 (a) 360° success is all in the process. Ensure the best possible process for feedback and be prepared to do your part


Steven J. Stein Dale H. Lastman James R. Christie Purdy Crawford Don Jack John R. Singleton Martin Seligman Jonathan Marsden Peter Salovey Caroline Carnerie W. Edmund Clark Michael Bregman Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


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