The general counsel plays a crucial role in today’s world. General Counsel success does not come automatically.
From strategic plan development to assisting with COVID-19 responses, a GC must be able to balance competing priorities, clarify actions, and much more.
What makes one GC more effective than another?
Ultimately, it comes down to five specific behaviors that must be cultivated and developed. We’ll explore those below:
Clarify Your Role
First, a General Counsel should clarify their role within the executive team. Too often, a GC is seen as the company’s lead attorney, and while there is some truth to that, this isn’t the role in which you can be most effective. Instead, transition to the highest-value role and train your executive team. This allows you to spend almost 50% more time on strategy and business guidance.
Risk management is a huge consideration when it comes to legal compliance. However, many GCs find themselves stuck managing legal risks. This is not the most effective role for you. Instead, you should determine the company’s appetite for risk, and then determine who owns emerging risks within the organization. Risk ownership supports better accountability across teams, while also enabling employees to take action when and where necessary. The result is that you are better able to execute corporate initiatives and identify emerging risks.
How much time do you spend focusing on client satisfaction? Chances are good it’s a significant amount. While client satisfaction is important, you are better able to serve the organization by filling strategic needs when it comes to client service, rather than just trying to please them. Instead of delighting clients, focus on meeting expectations and making interactions seamless and effortless. By changing this behavior, you are better able to understand the challenges your business partners face and deliver better outcomes across the board.
Manage Your Time
Many GCs are frazzled, rushing here and there in an attempt to respond to every single priority. However, that is not a wise use of your time, energy, or expertise. Instead, it’s important to take ownership of your priority cycle – what activities are the highest priority? Which ones have the most value? Control your time and focus it on areas that matter most. You will be interrupted less on projects and waste significantly less time during the year.
Every General Counsel knows the feeling of having to stretch available resources in an attempt to make ends meet. However, this is a poor use of your time and ultimately reduces your effectiveness. Instead, you should invest for legal scale. Get clarification on company direction and then ensure that appropriate investments are made in the resources necessary to reach mission-critical goals. This boosts your personal effectiveness and allows you to take proactive steps.
There you have them – five things you must do to be more effective in your role as general counsel. You’ll also find that, in addition to boosting personal effectiveness, these behaviors also support improved outcomes for the organization and the organization’s clients.