I was listening to a podcast last week that talked about integrity. It was a business podcast, and the speaker discussed the importance of a business owner to set the tone for the entire organization. One thing he emphasized was keeping your word and modeling that good behavior for your co-workers and employees. Essentially, the message was that you don't lead by saying…you lead by doing. So, if you want your employees to value your clients, you must value your clients. If you want your law firm to be known that cares about your clients, is responsive to them, and calls people back, you must care about your clients, be responsive to them and call people back.
I have thought about that a lot over the last week. I served on disciplinary committees for the Alabama State Bar for a number of years, and one of the biggest complaints I saw was that lawyers did not communicate well with clients. That is a struggle every small firm has, and I know we have struggled with it from time to time. A client entrusts their concerns to you and, while you might be handling the legal issues, if you don't communicate with your client or call someone back in a timely manner, they become more and more concerned and, ultimately, lose trust in their attorney.
I also see people that lose trust in themselves. They make promises to themselves ("I'm going to exercise three times this week" or "I'm going to call my mother/father/brother/sister/friend this week" or "I'm going to…" the list goes on and on) but then the promises don't seem to come true. After doing this a few times, they spend more time beating themselves up over not doing what they said they would do than concentrating on how to keep their promises to themselves in the future.
President John F. Kennedy said, "I would rather be accused of breaking precedents than breaking promises." When we break promises to ourselves and others, they lose trust in us, and we lose trust in ourselves. As King Solomon said thousands of years ago, "It is better not to make a promise than to make a promise and not pay it." Ecclesiastes 5:5.
This week make a promise to yourself and a loved one. Make sure it is one that you can keep, and then do whatever is necessary to keep your promise to yourself and your loved one, whatever it is. You'll never regret saying what you mean and meaning what you say.
Christy Crow is an attorney with Jinks, Crow & Dickson, P.C.