Lewis Landerholm of Pacific Cascade Legal On Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader…

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Lewis Landerholm of Pacific Cascade Legal On Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Uncertain & Turbulent Times

Have a Plan: Create a plan that you can follow through on — having this in place helps to create a sense of purpose and structure in the midst of chaos. Make sure everyone knows what their role is in the plan and execute it as a team.

As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Lewis Landerholm.

Lewis Landerholm is a business owner and family law attorney with well over a decade of experience. His business is based in the Pacific Northwest with ten office locations throughout Oregon and Washington. He started his business in 2010, just before the economic crash of 2011 and has faced many challenges since. Throughout it all, he has successfully managed to not only navigate his business through hard times, but also grow.

Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I knew early on that I wanted to run my own business rather than work for someone else. I have family members who were attorneys before me and inspired me to pursue law. I had experience working in upper management before going to law school, so once I finished up with law school I was confident I could build my own business using the skills I had acquired in the work field, so I took the risk and set up shop as soon as I graduated with my J.D.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When we first started, we were less mindful about hiring people that were the right fit for the office culture we were trying to cultivate and for the position that we were trying to fill. I’ve learned over the years how important it is to really take your time with hiring the best personality and the right skill sets, even if it takes longer to find that person, in order to safeguard your existing work environment and decrease turnover or unnecessary chaos. When I was just starting out, I hired an employee who simply filled the position, only to find out she had a side gig selling illegal substances in our office parking lot after work– that was a shock to find out! I’m certainly more careful now when it comes to really learning about the character and skill sets of each person I’m interviewing before bringing them onto the team.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I’m incredibly grateful to my wife for being a huge source of support to me over the years as we’ve gotten this firm off the ground and grown it into what it is today. There’s always risk involved when starting your own company, and my wife has been a supporter and active player in helping this firm succeed the entire way through.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your organization started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

The firm’s purpose was always to help as many people as possible. Our reach has extended quite a lot over the years, and our purpose for that push is always driven by the desire to service more people with their various legal needs.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?

It’s the obvious example, but I think every leader was faced with this experience to some extent over the past three years with COVID. COVID was a highly uncertain time, but we managed to navigate through it without laying anyone off and found ways to ensure our employees continued to receive the paychecks they were relying on during a difficult time for everyone. We figured out what our options were and what the state was allowing or not allowing. We adapted and practiced flexibility to ensure we got through it without losing any of our employees– it was a stressful time, but I’m proud of how we managed the situation.

Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?

I’ve certainly had days when it’s felt tiring– COVID tested leaders in a big way, and I’d be lying if I said there weren’t moments when the weight of that responsibility didn’t feel heavy to carry. However, I have a family to support, employees who rely on me to keep our doors open and paychecks coming through, and a strong desire to build something that has staying power and will make a difference in people’s lives, so those three aspects have kept me motivated and served as fuel to push forward, even on the hard days.

I’m an author and I believe that books have the power to change lives. Do you have a book in your life that impacted you and inspired you to be an effective leader? Can you share a story?

I really enjoy the book, “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. The four principles he teaches are to be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best. I’ve practiced these teachings in both business and my personal life– it’s a great read about how to navigate interactions with those around you and how to engage with people in a way that leads to healthy interplay and productivity.

What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?

To remain calm and to not overreact one way or the other. Stay the course, put a plan in place, then work the plan.

When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?

One of the best ways to help inspire, motivate, and engage your team is to be transparent with them about your plans and the reasoning behind your decisions. This also helps everyone feel involved in company processes, which contributes to loyalty, trust, and motivation. Having honest conversations with your team members will result in a more cohesive workplace culture.

Providing support during changes as well as offering flexibility should also be taken into consideration. Ask your employees what type of moral support they personally need from you, as the leader. They may think of things you hadn’t considered before and taking action to provide the things they are asking for will help them feel heard and appreciated, and absolutely boost morale.

Finally, strive to create an environment where ideas from all levels of staff are appreciated and encouraged without judgment. Foster an attitude of trial and error. Perfectionism during times of uncertainty isn’t as helpful as creativity, which can spark solutions that weren’t thought of before — hence the old phrase “thinking outside the box”.

What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?

I would say to always lead with honesty, be straightforward and don’t drag out bad news, and as much as possible, communicate difficult news in person.

How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?

First of all, it is important to recognize that uncertainty is unavoidable and part of the process of planning. Being aware of this allows a leader to create an action plan grounded in probabilities as opposed to predictions. It’s also important to ensure your team is familiar with potential risks associated with different courses of action so that any decision made will be backed up by an informed analysis.

The next step would be looking into how technology could help you gain insights into what may happen in the future, through predictive analytics for example. Establishing long-term goals based on sound data helps shape short-term tactical choices by giving everyone a common direction towards which they should strive for even during times or uncertainty or volatility.

Additionally, establishing a culture within your organization where change is seen as friendly rather than fearful encourages experimentation while avoiding disruption at key stages, ensuring business keeps going no matter what happens beyond its control. This means having people on board who understand not only how every component works but also why each one exists so they know why certain decisions need to be taken without compromising their core values when push comes to shove.

Finally, good leaders should remain agile and flexible in uncertain times and adjust plans as needed if external circumstances change drastically or new opportunities appear unexpectedly. Doing things wrong once isn’t necessarily bad if it allows corrections later; it might even open doors for innovation! Leaders should also focus on building resilience. Be proactive about budgeting/monitoring costs; invest time/resources into research & development initiatives; test backup systems regularly etc., so your organization is prepared for whatever happens in terms of unexpected events/changes, etc.

Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?

I always try to encompass the idea of staying calm and staying the course– my ability to remain even-keeled and not react to fear or big emotions, but instead to create a plan and act on it, has served me well during chaotic or turbulent times in my business.

Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?

Some mistakes that I feel I’ve seen other businesses make include stopping marketing efforts, overreacting and making snap judgments in the face of unknowns, and pulling funds before having a clear understanding of what’s to come.

Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Stay Calm: when things feel turbulent, just take a breath, assess, and create a game plan. Don’t make snap decisions that are motivated by fear or stress.
  2. Keep Marketing: in order to survive uncertain times, you need clientele. Don’t ditch marketing at the first sign of trouble; rather, lean into marketing and use all the resources available to you to get your business in front of your desired client base.
  3. Have a Plan: Create a plan that you can follow through on — having this in place helps to create a sense of purpose and structure in the midst of chaos. Make sure everyone knows what their role is in the plan and execute it as a team.
  4. Practice Open Communication About Your Plan with Employees: It’s important that your employees feel in the loop on what’s happening — unaddressed fears or anxieties can create unnecessary stress on employees, which then reduces work quality and can damage trust. Check in with your employees often and provide clear communication about where your business is heading and how they plan to get there.
  5. Focus on Team Building Experiences to Maintain Office Culture: During turbulent times, it’s easy for fears of the unknown to create a stressful environment in the office. More than ever, you need your team to feel unified and valued. Focus on team-building exercises or events to create a connected office culture.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Adapt or Die” — it’s always going to be a necessity for leaders to adapt to market forces, to adapt to the newest technology, and to adapt to a new hurdle. If you think you can do the same thing forever then you will lose touch with the clients you’re serving, so stay on your toes and be quick to adjust.

How can our readers further follow your work?

They can check out our website at https://www.pacificcascadelegal.com/

We have a Facebook page where we share firm news, legal updates, and post helpful videos: https://www.facebook.com/PacificCascadeLegal/

Finally, our firm’s LinkedIn page is a good place for professional networking: https://www.linkedin.com/company/pacificcascadelegal/

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

Lewis Landerholm of Pacific Cascade Legal On Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.