EPISODE 59 — Greg Ward — Impact and Service: The Measures of a Leader’s Success
Greg Ward is the Founding Partner of the Miami-based Ward Law Group, a powerhouse personal injury firm with a unique empathy for their community, a client-focused set of core values, and a forward-thinking approach that has empowered them to grow rapidly even during the tumultuous year of COVID.
In this episode, Greg tells moving stories of how he and his wife/co-Founding Partner have made the most of challenging experiences; explains why they always put their clients, team, and community first; and proclaims in no uncertain terms that any lawyer who’s in it for the money is in it for the wrong reasons.
2:29 – A lifetime of standing up to bullies. “When I was eight or nine years old, my sister and I were on the playground across the street from my house and the neighborhood bully rammed her with a swing and they started fighting. I looked at this and was paralyzed with fear. As I’ve relived that moment throughout my life, that was the first time that I realized that it’s my job to stand up for somebody who can’t stand up for themselves.”
18:58 – Doing it for money is the wrong reason. “If you’re in this for money, you’re doing it for the wrong reason. It’s an easy mistake for lawyers because we think it’s going to provide us with a great income — but if you chase the money, you’re going to end up in a terrible position. Money has to be the result of great service and for going above and beyond. Your business is never about you; it’s about who you serve. You shouldn’t track your results purely by income. Maybe settlements, because they’re real cases you’re settling for real people, but if you’re talking about how much you made last year, then it’s just about you. You’re going to lose it eventually because you’ve got your priorities messed up. The money is not the objective; it’s just the service. That’s a non-negotiable. If you want to do this for money, do something else because there’s never enough money for that.”
21:47 – Your core values should guide your firm. “When I was living on my couch, I went on a quest to figure out who I was. I thought about my core values: who I am and what my vision is. I came up with several core values. Our first value is customer service, service to the clients. Our second is service to our teammates, and the third is service to our community. Then we have faith, accountability, leadership, and loyalty. Those are our seven core values. The most important is service to our clients. We’ve got to remember that all of this is about our clients. Secondly, it’s all about our teammates. We’ve got to help each other. Figure out your core values. When I’ve got to make a decision about something important, I think about how it’s going to affect my clients, my team, or our community. Those three really drive most decisions. If I were to do something that would make my clients less money but drive my income up, I would not do it.”
25:00 – In trying times, invest and grow. “When COVID hit and we were all in lockdown, I asked my wife what we could do right then to expand. We have a TV studio in the office, so we brought in a cameraman and started creating training videos to revamp our training system. Then we started improving our processes. We upgraded to a case management software and hired a Salesforce developer to work on all the processes with our other people. We were really doing this tech conversion of our firm. And I decided I’m not going to back off on marketing, because everyone’s home watching TV. So I kept my advertising contracts going, and we’re just blowing up TV. We doubled our market share. It was an exciting time for us, but also terrifying. You can’t let that fear in your head because once you do, you’re paralyzed. There’s nothing you can do.”
28:18 – The biggest mistake is trusting the wrong people. “Finding good people and bringing them into the organization is hard, and those bad hires are probably the biggest mistakes. Trusting people is always hard, but you’ve got to keep doing it. Every year we get better at our hiring processes and have fewer and fewer of those bad hires. But you learn, and that’s the whole point. You’re paying for an education.”
30:27 – An intentional hiring process is key. “We use a PRINT analysis, both as a hiring and coaching tool, and we’re intentional about where we put people. For example, a new hire may think they should be an admin when they should actually be client-facing. People don’t always know what they want or what their skills are, but PRINT helps show us. We also make it hard for people to apply. They have to call to get the instructions to apply, and they have to follow them or receive demerits to their application. Each year we get better applicants and better people as a result.”
32:02 – The best leaders are authentic. “Be yourself. You have to be a vulnerable warrior. So many of us are trying to project this strength that we want to be, but to be a good lawyer you have to have some trauma. You’ve got to be able to understand and relate to your clients’ stories. It takes guts to do that.”
35:12 – Be vulnerable with your team. “Authenticity means vulnerability, so I share my struggles and my wife does the same, so our team knows we’re real people. It’s very easy for them to slip into an ‘us/them’ mentality and say we’ve never had it hard. So you’ve got to be authentic and vulnerable. We try and focus first on communication, which is the glue to an organization.”
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