Leader Upheaval: Michele DeStefano’s Guide to Client-Centricity, Culture Creation, and Collaboration

Leader Upheaval Michele DeStefano's Guide to Client-Centricity, Culture Creation, and Collaboration
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By: Maria Williams

As the buzzwords innovation, collaboration, and culture creation become increasingly used in corporate discussions, countless books are flooding the market, claiming to provide a secret formula for leadership success. Unfortunately, many of these books don’t walk the talk and fail to offer readers actionable strategies. 

Many texts are filled with abstract theories but fall short when it comes to providing practical solutions for leaders to apply in their workplaces, given that they tend to focus too much on the what and not enough on the how. However, what today’s leaders need are realistic insights, tools, and techniques they can directly apply to their teams and organizations.

Michele DeStefano aims to bridge this gap between theory and practice in her unique book, Leader Upheaval: A Guide to Client-Centricity, Culture Creation, and Collaboration. Just released on April 2, 2024, it serves as an exceptional resource for leaders seeking to learn the skills needed to turn their visions into reality. It encourages leaders to empower individuals, align incentives, and create an environment where innovation, collaboration, and culture thrive.

The author possesses decades of experience as a professor at the University of Miami School of Law and a program chair in Harvard Law School’s Executive Education program. She’s also known as the founder of LawWithoutWalls (“LWOW”), a global community of over 2,000 lawyers, business professionals, entrepreneurs, and students who collaborate to create innovations in the business of law and develop new mindsets and skill sets. Moreover, she’s the brain behind MOVEL∆W, a company dedicated to changing how professionals collaborate and contribute to culture change through experiential learning workshops revolving around human-centered design.

DeStefano has leveraged her extensive background in these fields and hands-on experience leading multidisciplinary teams to develop a roadmap for leaders to adopt a client-centric approach, shift their mindset, and cultivate an environment conducive to collaboration, innovation, and inclusivity. Committed to offering a more holistic view of the landscape, she has sought insights from over 280 interviews with senior executives in professional services and their clients as well.

When asked about the motivation behind penning this book, DeStefano shares, 

“No one ever explains how you as leaders can motivate individuals, create an inclusive and empowering environment, and inspire change; they just imply that it magically happens. No one ever explains how you’re supposed to move from a problem to inspiration, from an idea to a prototype. I thought I should processize it for others, that is, provide practical steps for how leaders can do this based on what I have done with the LawWithoutWalls community and leading over 240 project teams on a four-month innovation journey over the past 14 years.”

It’s worth highlighting that Leader Upheaval doesn’t only provide practical recommendations on enhancing leadership style and driving change, client-centricity, and culture creation across industries. It also delves into the common pitfalls that leaders must navigate. Part I specifically dives into these stumbling blocks, focusing on factors like the changing expectations of corporate clients and the leadership gap in professional services. 

Part II, on the other hand, outlines what it takes for leaders to inspire, lead, and create a positive work culture. It introduces the Three Rules of Engagement and emphasizes the significance of establishing inclusive environments where diverse professionals can succeed.

Meanwhile, Part III goes through the different components of effective management in collaboration and innovation efforts (i.e., team makeup, structure, processes, and communication strategies). It also presents The 3-4-5 Method™, a step-by-step approach developed by DeStefano over the past decade to guarantee progress and mitigate the risk of failure.

With this, Leader Upheaval: A Guide to Client-Centricity, Culture Creation, and Collaboration serves as the ultimate resource for anyone desiring to ensure successful multidisciplinary collaboration in professional services. It’s best for those invested in changing how service providers cater to clients and for leaders searching for more tangible ways to lead and inspire positive change, culture creation, and client-centricity within their teams, firms, or departments. 

The author complements this book with The Leader Upheaval Handbook: Lead Teams on an Innovation & Collaboration Journey with The 3-4-5 Method. Here, she addresses a barrier to innovation in professional services—the lack of training in applying design thinking principles and leading multidisciplinary teams in collaborative problem-solving. This initiative illustrates DeStefano’s dedication to filling the gaps she witnessed firsthand.

“I’ve always been motivated by motivating others. So, I really get inspired when I’m inspiring other people. I like to see people change how they think about the world, how they see things, and the way they behave. I wrote the book in hopes of moving people forward, if not miles, at least inches,” DeStefano shares. This commitment extends to her mission as a law professor and the founder of the innovative organizations LWOW and MOVEL∆W. 


Published by: Khy Talara


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