If you are a long time reader, you might recall a post I wrote years ago after meeting the managing partner of a law firm who is about my age. He said:

Client development coaching: What’s the value of that. A lawyer either has it or doesn’t.

Wow, I had to hold my tongue. I understood why he believed  what he said. Client development came easy to him, He was likeable, enjoyed playing golf and entertaining and he was a very capable litigator.

After I had finished coaching the first group of lawyers in his firm, the managing partner thanked me and said I may have changed his mind about lawyers either “having it or not.”

I have written about books and articles written by Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson. A year ago I wrote: Client Development: Change What You Think it Takes to Succeed.

Recently I read a very interesting, and thought provoking piece written by Dr. Halvorson, titled: THE TROUBLE WITH BRIGHT GIRLS. I urge you to read it, especially if you have children. In the article she writes about research on how bright 5th grade girls and boys see a difficult problem. She writes:

Researchers have uncovered the reason for this difference in how difficulty is interpreted, and it is simply this: more often than not, bright girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice.

She goes on to share that most likely this difference results from the feedback given to girls and boys by their parents.

Long before I learned of this study, I wrote Rising Star. Gina, the main character in my book was a composite of several lawyers I had coached. At the beginning of the book she is thinking about quitting her law practice. The year before she had brought in over $1 million in business, most of which came from one client. Since that matter was completed, she is very concerned that she will not be able to duplicate her success and as a result she will let down the partners who supported her promotion.

If you get a chance to read the book, which is available as a hard copy and also available in a Kindle , Nook or iTunes edition, you will see that Gina bought into the idea that her abilities were innate and unchangeable.

I have coached many lawyers whose parents must have given feedback based on their effort. A hardworking young woman lawyer I coach, recently wrote something very nice about me. She wrote:

Cordell thinks outside of the box and makes everyone believe they can push themselves to achieve their potential – and in doing so makes people shed their limitations, excuses and unhelpful habits — and think in a bigger picture context. Cordell gives people power, and that is unique.

When you read what she wrote, don’t think about me. Instead, think about her.

I can only push lawyers to achieve their potential if the lawyers believe they can develop their ability through effort and practice. I can’t “make” lawyers shed their limitations, excuses and unhelpful habits–and think in a bigger picture context. More accurately, I facilitate those things, but I can only do it with lawyers who believe they can develop their ability through effort and practice.

When I coach lawyers, I frequently ask:

On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your client development efforts?

It turns out that 7 seems to be the most often chosen rating. I am not sure why, but I don’t believe it is because 7 was Micky Mantle’s number.

After going over what the lawyer is doing well, I ask:

What would it take to get you to a 10?

If we have never worked together, I ask you the same two questions. Your answers will help you become more successful.