By Parul Patel
How would you feel about being employed by a law firm that’s committed to being the most vibrant, happy and uplifting place to work in the world?
These words are not typically associated with the legal profession (and they might have you searching for the small print!), but they are exactly what Jonathan Kewley presented as part of his nomination to lead Clifford Chance (named “International Law Firm of the Year” at the International Financial Law Review Europe Awards 2022).
He proposed piloting four-day weeks and fostering a culture where holidays are treated as “sacred holy days”. His rallying cry was, “Let’s surprise, let’s delight, let’s dream, because what is life if it’s only full of cares?”
Although the younger generation of legal professionals is demanding a better work-life balance, many firms are clueless about how to bring it into reality.
In this blog, we’re going to explore the benefits of replacing aggression and defensiveness with love and compassion, so that you can decide if you want to join what’s been dubbed the “conscious revolution” and create a legal team that thrives without fear. I’ll also share three ways you can gain greater insight into yourself and your team, so that you can bring out the best in everyone and accelerate progress!
What’s love got to do with it? (Apologies for the Tina Turner earworm!)
Over time, the industrial revolutions have altered how we work and live, but most of the changes have focused on improving productivity, efficiency and profitability. They don’t move towards creating a more fulfilled workforce full of people with their own set of unique talents and desires, who feel they belong and offer a valuable contribution.
Love supports a sense of wellbeing, inclusivity, and enables people to work at their best and bring out the best in each other (no more silo working!).
However, the so-called revolutions have made us less human and more uniform; but for organisations to be successful and sustainable, they must be willing to become courageous, adopt a mindset of abundance, and stop being driven by fear (see my earlier blog 4 Easy Ways To Live With Less Fear And Set Yourself Up For Abundance).
A loveless environment is a breeding ground for fear-based decision-making that negatively impacts productivity, efficiency and profit. It’s a vicious circle perfectly summed up by the Albert Einstein quote, “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”; in other words, to move away from stress, worry and confusion, we need to add a big dose of love to the equation (and not the romantic fluffy kind!).
Adding more love and less fear is the driving force of everything I create at Fuel+Move’s Career Gym for Lawyers.
Is “adding love” to the workplace a new concept?
Bringing more love into the workplace is not a new or fanciful development. Decades ago, confectioners Cadbury and Rowntree’s were both founded on principles of compassion and community. Now, we’re beginning to see this kind of “love” reawaken, in part because there’s evidence that it’s business critical. Companies such as Unilever and PepsiCo have embedded it into their operating systems.
Love is emblazoned throughout everything they do. For example, Unilever’s strategic priorities include: “We see meaningful work as everyone’s right. We’re taking big steps to equip our own people and others for the future; a strategy supported by hard targets and honesty. We can’t promise anyone a job for life, but we can do everything possible to equip our people with the skills and awareness to pursue meaningful work whether at Unilever or beyond.”
What's next? Pillow talk? (🤣 No, not exactly!)
Finding ways to create a more loving and compassionate work environment doesn’t disregard the theories or tools generated by previous industrial revolutions.
The conscious revolution is less about control and domination, and focuses more on releasing our individual and collective brilliance in a way that serves us, our employer and society.
Love conquers fear, enabling us all to be winners.
3 ways you can bring more love into the workplace
If your firm has maintained its stiff upper lip, you might be wondering how on earth you can turn the tide.
Here are three ways you can squeeze out the culture of fear and start to bring more love into the workplace:
1. Find clarity
The first recommendation was shared on Fuel+Move’s earlier podcast (and blog) by Christine Baker, Executive Coach and Human Capability Expert. She recommends that you gain clarity on who you are and what you want so that you are emotionally and intellectually fulfilled by your career.
2. Ask for insight
The second insight comes from Lori Lorenzo who is known as the Chief Legal Officer (CLO) Whisperer. On my YouTube channel, Live, Laugh, Law, Lori suggested that you ask your colleagues what it’s like to work with you. When we become more aware of how others perceive us, we can further develop our emotional intelligence and learn to respond rather than react to stressful situations.
3. Seek the gold and ditch the dirt
To gain a third insight, I suggest you reflect on how often you find yourself looking for the dirt in people. Do you think about what people did that was “wrong” or where they fell short of perfect? Or do you focus on what went well? Your whole perspective changes when you seek the gold and ditch the dirt.
For any of us to perform well professionally and live at our best, we need to have a strong sense of belonging, feel safe, empowered and free to express who we are as individuals; those are natural by-products of compassionate and loving leadership.
Love is the key that unlocks it all.
What feelings are coming up for you as you read this blog? If your firm has a culture of fear, do you feel frustrated knowing how different it could be? Or are you inspired to get stuck in and make a few changes to how you interact with others? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Leadership can be tough, but transforming it so that it’s more loving is definitely worth it! When each person can play to their strengths, you’ll have a more loyal and productive team.
Parul is an experienced international lawyer, demanding client, disruptive consultant and thought-provoking non-executive director and board advisor.
She's advised law firms and big global brands like Nike, Speedo and Manchester United, as well as supporting inner-city social change programmes, startups and scale-ups. Fuel+Move is born of her passion to improve interaction with the legal sector and achieve a better experience with better outcomes for its stakeholders.
Parul Patel can be found here: