A Q&A with Louise Mathias

A discussion with Legalwise Seminars, Louise Mathias, Multidisciplinary Barrister, Mediator (Harvard), Certified High Performance + EQ + Daring Leadership Coach and Consultant, shares her insights into high performing leaders and teams. She will be delving into this topic in the upcoming CPD Compulsory Units for All Lawyers on Friday 18 March 2022 at Cliftons – Spring Street, Sydney.

Louise Mathias


What’s a good place to start when there’s a performance problem in an organisation?

If you want leaders, leadership groups and teams, highly engaged, productive, authentic high performers, who work in supportive, trusting environments, you’re not alone.

However, most organisations make the common mistake of focusing their attention on effectively managing a team’s underperformance by concentrating their attention on the individuals KPIS’s in teams, believing it will increase organisational effectiveness and boost performance.

In reality, the starting point of any organisational underperformance is reviewing leaders and the leadership groups performance.

High performing teams reflect the quality of the leaders – leadership skills.

When the leaders and leadership group perform at higher levels, the focus can shift to boost the team’s performance.

Technical legal skills aren’t enough to create high performing leaders or teams – learnable leadership skills are essential.

In terms of leadership, what’s a trap that you see leaders frequently fall into?

When there is little or no ‘vulnerability or trust’ in the leadership group or between leaders and teams, it creates toxic environments, poor productivity, and low engagements, which lowers performance.

Many people think of vulnerability as soft, where everyone holds hands and sings “Kumbaya ‘together. Leaders who choose to be committed to vulnerability, trust, and courage are self-aware enough to lead authentically to create individual and team higher performance, using head and heart. Alternatively, leaders who choose to lead with self-protection, using shame and blame, wielding power over others as a management tool, and driving a ‘fitting in culture’ often find it easier and more culturally acceptable. However, it produces poor performances, toxic cultures, and diminishes results.

When leaders are driven by fear and their weaknesses, that’s how they lead. Toxic cultures reflect fearful leaders.

Can you give an example of the behaviours of fearful leaders and teams?

Many behavioural and cultural issues arise and exist when fear is prevalent. A fear culture prevents courageous leaders and teams from performing at higher levels and is reflected in the following examples of fearful leadership and team’s behaviours:

  • A culture of shame and blame – even reasonable failures and setbacks are stigmatised and a common source of shame and blame.
  • Perfectionism is the expected standard based on fear, which stops people from learning, growing, and iterating their way to extraordinary.

Many organisational and professional cultural behaviours are accepted, and they are based on fear. Deeply human issues underlie all the poor performance and cultural issues.

What tips can you suggest to an organisation and its leaders to generate a courageous, trusting mindset amongst staff?
  • Be courageous open to new ideas about brave, trusting leaders and teams, which will boost your leaders and teams’ performance, reaching next-level performance.

Don’t’ take my word for it. Try it out for yourself, learn, at the upcoming conference, practice what you learn and iterate you and your teams performance to extraordinary. You’ll find positive outcomes are easier to achieve, more quickly when you reduce the guesswork.

Louise Mathias is a Multi-Disciplinary Barrister and Mediator from Sydney. Her mission is to make a positive difference in law, particularaly modernising conflict resolution, with a selection of proven up-to-date methods. Additionally, Louise aims to help lawyers and leaders live with lives to their full potential, where that can perform at high levels so they are happy, confident and add value to the legal world with positive results. You can find Louise through her website or her LinkedIn LinkedIn