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Confidence projects leadership, honesty and authority

Stance, eye contact, comfort level, movement, facial expression, and dress can be seen as cues about honesty, collaboration, negotiation skills, ability to reach agreement, power, and actual work performance.  


The chairman and chief executive of an investment bank was recently quoted in the Sunday New York Times column “Corner Office” in which he said “. . . the first thing I look for are the nonverbal components of one’s overall presence and presentation.  Would I buy from this person?  Would I want to do business with that individual?  Do they look me in the eye?  Do they have a certain energy level?  Do they seem confident?  Those are the kinds of things that really matter most.”  

Likewise, a Forbes article on January 7, 2013, “10 Simple and Powerful Body Language Tips for 2013” discusses implications of body language – “[O]ver the years, I’ve noticed that parties are more likely to reach an agreement if they begin a negotiation by displaying engaged body language (smiling, nodding, mirroring, open gestures, etc.)”

The current marketplace puts considerable pressure on lawyers, particularly those early in their careers, to stand out.  It is a buyers’ market in which a client has no trouble finding a lawyer and needs to be given a reason to choose a particular one.

I have recently had the privilege of presenting to law students to help prepare them in client development and networking skills building.  Some very smart schools have made these courses a requirement, even in first semester of the first year!  Projecting confidence becomes key in classroom discussions about networking, interviewing, and getting hired.


Body language refers to stance, eye contact, comfort level, movement, facial expression and dress.   These can serve as cues about traits such as honesty, collaboration, negotiation skills, ability to reach agreement, power, and actual work performance.

Employers, internal and external clients, colleagues, and others who have influence can quickly pick up on non-verbal cues and make hiring and long-term association decisions accordingly.

To address this issue, particularly with young lawyers, here are three action steps to help you move the process along:

  • Teach body language skills as part of an orientation program
  • Role play prior to client meetings
  • “Fake it ’til you make it” is a good first strategy

What can “Just Do It” teach us about the power of establishing a personal connection to a brand?

Happy Birthday to Nike’s “Just Do It!” It turned 25 in July and is often heralded as the tagline that has had the greatest cultural impact and mass appeal, ever! It has been adapted by some as a personal mantra for their whole lives.


Inspiration trumped data.

“Just Do It” was conceived out of sheer inspiration, in all of 20 minutes. It caused Nike’s image to soar, giving a new dimension to the term the “big idea.”

In his July 2, 2013 Adweek article “Happy 25th Birthday to Nike’s ‘Just Do It,’ The Last Great Advertising Slogan . . .“ author David Gianatasio states “Big data doesn’t necessarily kill big ideas, but it can thwart inspiration by attempting to quantify the unquantifiable.”

According to Gianatasio, a big idea yields an impact greater than the sum of the parts. Isn’t that what we all want?


Routinely, we are making decisions based upon “hits,” data sets and algorithms, but they may not always lead us to ideas that are enduring, visionary and adaptable. The results may be short-lived because the ideas conveyed are not memorable but, rather, meet the needs of a particular distribution channel in a discrete period of time.

In sum, here are action items to consider as you create your next identity campaign or marketing tagline:

  • Remain open to ideas that may not yet be backed up by data
  • Apply these tests to evaluating an idea. Is it adaptable over time? Is it bigger than its immediate use? Does it enable a personal connection?
  • Trust your gut. The power of intuition can grow your business.

Can Introverts build business? Are they effective leaders? Is it true they don’t like people?

There has been much commentary recently about personality types and styles and their impact on career success and performance.  It is assumed that extraverts, because they are social animals, are the true business builders.  It is easy and natural for them to develop and nurture relationships.

From The article . . .

Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln and Rosa Parks were introverts. They were less outspoken certainly, but no one can say they weren’t leaders.

In her September 15, 2012, Opinion piece in the New York Times, “Must Great Leaders be Gregarious?” Susan Cain states “Culturally, we tend to associate leadership with extraversion and attach less importance to judgment, vision and mettle.”

Likewise in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, she questions whether the conception we have of Extraverts really holds. In fact, Extraverts are prone to riskier behavior and their actions may be less well thought out. They can act out of ego.

Introverts can lead, build business and form deep relationships. They just do it differently.

To encourage introverts to shine, in a related August 22, 2012 article in Forbes, the author Karl Moore offers this perspective:

  • Quiet leaders add value.  Listen to them.  Invite reflection.
  • The workplace needs a mix of both personality types.
  • Allow introverts and extroverts to learn from each other.


What does this mean for business development?

The Extravert may go into a networking situation cold and return with several business cards and opportunities for follow-up.  The Introvert will have taken time to target, research and study about one new contact.  The method will be in-depth and informed and he/she will return with a high-potential opportunity.

These approaches are equally effective.  They simply result from different personality styles and types. Extraverts are enthusiastic, friendly, likable and naturally drawn toward others.  Introverts are thorough, systematic, careful with detail, and not likely to be convinced by anything but reasoning.  They work independently, and rely on their inner resourcefulness.

In applying these principles to managing others, here are three action steps to get you started:

  • Don’t dismiss quiet leaders. Make sure they are heard.
  • Provide introverts with smaller group meetings and spaces to be alone.
  • Set it up to get the best of both worlds.

Rather than setting goals for 2013, consider this . . .

The big end-of-the-year push is on, and we are bombarded with advice on setting goals for 2013.  Do goals pay off?  Do they get us where we want to be?

Some research shows that goal setting results in greater profitability.  However, countervailing data show that in pursuit of goals, critical variables fall by the way.     


“Instead of identifying goals, consider identifying areas of focus,” says writer Peter Bregman in his December 14, 2012, Harvard Business Review post on the HBR Blog Network.  He contends that are not all they are cracked up to be.  Instead, they cause a “number of side effects that suggest you may be better off without them.”

For example, goals that are specific in time and measures are more likely to go awry.  Risks include:

  • Working too quickly
  • Overlooking important workplace factors such as culture and motivation
  • Encouraging unethical behavior

Instead, it is suggested that we identify areas of focus“A goal is a result; an area of focus is a path . . . the goal specifies where you’re going and the area of focus describes how you plan to get there.”  The author contends that by identifying the things you want to spend your time doing, you will do them, you will do them well, and the rest will take care of itself. 


Flexibility is a critical ingredient in law firm management, particularly now as firms are forced to shift quickly to adjust to ever-changing marketplace and regulatory events. 

In the face of these uncertainties, setting precise, to-the-number goals may be counterproductive.  Whereas, focusing on the “how to” in areas of strategic significance gives you a path to get to your goals

Whatever your focus — serving clients more intimately, building loyalty, growing bench strength in key practice areas, expanding/contracting geographic footprint, increasing revenue by decreasing costs, etc., — the “how to” helps lawyers feel ownership, work with increased precision and align with firm culture. 

Action steps:

√   Identify realistic and achievable areas of focus
   Create a blueprint for each to get you there
√   Develop measures that include workplace factors

Is landing a new client the most critical part of the “sales” process? The answer may impact your budget and marketing focus for 2013.

New evidence shows that with an increase in the number of touch points in the customer/client decision-making process come new client service and marketing challenges. They can effect conversion from prospect to client and impact, positively or negatively, client loyalty, word-of-mouth and willingness to refer new business.  


“Consumers are changing the way they research and buy products.”  Multiple touch points or points of influence can now impact decision-making. The site of control has shifted to a “discerning and well-informed consumer.”   

Informational web sites, online communications, PR, client testimonials, a variety of media (including social media and video), advertising, expanded choices, the opportunity to experience you prior to engaging your services, and more reliance on word-of-mouth have changed how companies and firms are evaluated and hired.  They have also increased the importance of what transpires “post purchase.” 

In the McKinsey & Company article “Winning the Consumer Decision Journey,” the authors (David Court, Dave Elzinga, Susan Mulder, and Ole Jørgen Vetvik)* discuss marketing and engagement with customers/clients in the new digital environment. 

Fundamental to this occurrence are:

  • Managing the customer experience by interacting with them at several points of influence
  • Reinvigorating loyalty initiatives by increasing spending on engagement and messaging post-purchase when consumers tell others about the product or service they bought
  • Getting ahead of the change in the balance of power in which the purchaser of services often drives marketing activity



Your firm’s web site, Internet research, client visits and social media are some of the factors that create new client touch points along the continuum of client acquisition and service.  They require more sophisticated, evolved, informed, and possibly resourced, marketing planning and execution. 

Clients are making active choices in purchasing legal services.  The chosen firm may be the one that has executed its marketing strategically to interact at various critical junctures along the client decision-making journey.   

As you plan marketing budgets for 2013, here are three steps to help you get to the most profitable allocation of your promotional dollars:

    √  Audit and evaluate how/where/when marketing interacts with clients and prospects

    √  Ask clients what tools they use when researching lawyers, firms, and client experiences

    √  Identify a small sample; beta test shifting dollars to several touch points and measure results

*About the Authors: David Court is a director in McKinsey’s Dallas office, Dave Elzinga is a principal in the Chicago office, Susie Mulder is a principal in the Boston office, and Ole Jørgen Vetvik is a principal in the Oslo office