The Year of Teamwork

January 20, 2020

At the beginning of last year, I wrote one of my favorite posts about why getting a mentor should be your New Year’s resolution. In a nutshell, that article posited that we live in a world full of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, and one of the best ways to help you through it was to find a trusted advisor. In my view, an essential quality of a great mentor is knowing the limits of their expertise and working as a team with others to achieve the best result for the mentee.

This year I’ve decided to ditch the New Year’s resolution concept and implement a yearly theme, inspired by the Theme System. My 2020 theme is the Year of Teamwork. I want to focus on teamwork because I’ve found that the most rewarding relationships I’ve had are when I’ve been a part of a team, where there’s been give and take by each teammate, all working towards a common goal. These relationships lead to successful outcomes.

I’ve been part of teams for as long as I can remember: little league baseball, my Boy Scout Troop, lacrosse, my family, our firm. I’ve been a part of high performing teams, and teams that fell short of their potential. I think it’s always been my goal to be a good teammate, but sometimes it’s easy to lose focus of your individual role while you’re focusing on the bigger picture.

My primary goals for the Year of Teamwork are to approach the following intentionally:

  • Identify teams that I’m a member of
  • Clarify the team’s goals and identify what a successful outcome is
  • Identify my role on the team and be mindful of how I can add the most value
  • Identify ways that I can be a better teammate

At this point, you may be thinking “Great, Matt – you’re too cool for New Year’s resolutions. Why does this matter to me?

First and foremost, whether you’re starting a business, working for one, or even if you’re just a family member, we’re all part of teams and I challenge you to think about how you might apply these concepts in your life.

Second, I’ll tell you that the team at Russell, Krafft & Gruber is a special one that I’m very privileged to be a part of – we care deeply about our clients, and we work hard to achieve the best outcomes for them. While working as a team is important in almost every context, legal decisions are rarely made in a vacuum so we understand the importance of teamwork both with each other and with individuals outside of our firm.

Here are just a few typical scenarios and examples of where teamwork led to exceptional results for our clients:

  • While one attorney in our office typically is the key contact person for a client’s legal issues, we routinely bring in others who have complimentary areas of expertise to make sure the big picture is addressed. For example, when Lindsay meets with an estate planning client that owns a business, I was brought in to discuss business succession planning or and confirm the entity documents accurately reflect the client’s goals.
  • We try to build relationships and keep in touch with our clients’ other professional advisors and involve them in decision-making. For example, an accountant I routinely work with recently let me know that a mutual client was thinking about buying a property. This allowed me to proactively reach out to the client to explain the legal and tax implications of a real estate purchase, which saved the client an unexpected tax bill and gave them flexibility for estate planning and management purposes in the future.
  • When drafting a contract, I routinely stop by Brandon’s office to talk about how he would approach a certain provision if he were litigating a claim relating to the contract so that we can identify the best approach to protect our client.
  • When an issue implicating technology arises in a family law case, the RKG Technology Law group evaluates the issue holistically, identifying the best path forward both legally and practically to achieve the clients’ goals.

This year, I’m going to keep my theme in mind as I think about my interactions with my teammates and continue to work to make each team that I’m a part of the best that it can be.

Matt Landis is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University Commonwealth School of Law and works regularly with business owners and entrepreneurs. Matt is one of the founding members of the RKG Tech Law Group.