Solo/Small Firm

Agile Leaders Embrace Change to Create the New Normal

Written by Ruby L. Powers

The theme word for 2020 could be “change.” Whether job losses, quarantines, wearing masks, or working and learning remotely, the year was filled with change and new ways of doing things. Leaders and business owners everywhere were given a crash course in agile leadership, regardless of whether they wanted it.

Agile leadership—the ability to take effective action in complex, rapidly changing conditions—is not a single competency. Agile leaders have a broad collection of behaviors and skills that allow them to rapidly adjust their leadership style to the demands of any given situation.

As the pandemic continued to drag on, it became apparent that no business was immune to either evolving or being swept up in the financial downturn. Those who pivoted and remained flexible were able to ride a wave of innovation born of necessity, carrying them into 2021 and beyond. But that all depended on their leader’s agility.


Fear of Change
As attorneys, we are led to pursue the safe and predictable and avoid risks for our clients and our bar license. This fear can control and paralyze people, making them avoid change at an unhealthy or dysfunctional level.


Strengths as Lawyer, Weaknesses as Firm Owner
Many of the traits that make one a good lawyer are not the best traits for management and entrepreneurial vision. Lawyers are generally trained to be risk-averse in their legal decisions, but we also have to challenge ourselves to learn new skills and mindsets to succeed as leaders and to take our firms to greater heights (or protect them in an unforeseen and long-running disaster, such as a pandemic).


Entrepreneur’s Vision
Entrepreneurs are happiest when left to ponder “what-if” and “if-when” questions. The entrepreneur role creates havoc around them, which is unsettling for the people enlisted on their projects. This role is a break from the stability of the technician but necessary for growth, forward-thinking, and adaptability. The skills and characteristics of the entrepreneur are needed to overcome the trials of the pandemic.


Importance of Embracing Change
In our modern world, change that demands a savvy, forward-thinking approach appears to be quickening. Just take the progression of videoconferencing tools, from the early years of Skype a decade or so ago to the modern and easy-to-use videoconferencing giant Zoom.


The Change You Choose vs. The Change Thrust Upon You
Agile leaders have an intentional, proactive approach to change. They anticipate emerging opportunities and threats by continually studying their organization’s environment for new developments.


10 Key Principles to Embrace Change and Empowering Innovation:
1. Allow yourself to see the big picture
2. Create and clarify the vision and mission
3. Embrace the growth mindset
4. Take the next step
5. Communicate the message and inspire buy-in from the team
6. Be prepared for pushback and pivotal conversations
7. Do not be afraid of failure
8. Always keep an eye out for innovation and improvement
9. Strive to be teachable (aka humble)
10. Make self-care a priority.


COVID-19 has forever changed the way we will practice law, run our firms, and live our lives. It has also changed the way the government and courts will function and interact, and, more importantly, how our clients will want to receive legal services. We must be agile to stay relevant and competitive and to create the new normal ahead.TBJ


Headshot of Ruby PowersRUBY POWERS
is the founder and managing attorney of Powers Law Group. Located in Houston, the firm focuses solely on immigration law. Powers is certified in immigration and nationality law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. A graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law, she is an alumna of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, Leadership Houston, and American Leadership Forum. Powers authored the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s book Build and Manage Your Successful Immigration Law Practice (Without Losing Your Mind). She is a law practice management consultant and coach with Powers Strategy Group ( Connect with Powers at

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