Managing partner of the Waukesha office
Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.
Industry: Business law and tax
Employees: About 300
Tim Nettesheim has been managing partner of Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren’s Waukesha office since it opened in 2002, but his legal career with the firm spans more than 24 years.
“The legal business has become similar to other businesses in that organic growth appears stagnant or decreasing. While profits can be found in a declining market by curtailing expense, that usually inhibits innovation.
“What to do about it? Learn from your clients who have already faced this reality in their own businesses and learn from your people. They can tell you how to efficiently innovate and provide value to your clients. Like any business, a law firm is dependent on clients and human capital.
“How do you make the most of your human capital? Based on my experience, the following themes emerge:
- If you want an extraordinary result, you need extraordinary people at all levels.
- Reject the culture of “adequacy.” Tolerating adequacy drives out exceptional performance.
- There is no shortage of micromanagers in this world. Avoid them. They kill initiative and creativity.
- Foster a real team culture built on trust. If you don’t trust your people by empowering them with autonomy, skills mastery and a betterment of people philosophy, you don’t have a team; you have a collection of inmates.
- Be a leader. If your business fails, don’t blame the team. Blame yourself as the leader. Tell the truth always and test your principles by transparency.
“Those are some ideas on how to achieve success in a declining marketplace without apparent opportunity. You will never be great unless you set out to be great. You will never find an optimistic result unless you are optimistic. You will never achieve success without other people who multiply your talents and divide your weaknesses, because they are extraordinary.”