W W W . H E R I O T B R O W N . C O M
As part of a series of General Counsel Roundtables, Heriot Brown Legal Search and Recruitment recently hosted a virtual round table, covering “The Principles of Leadership for In-House Legal Teams.”
The panel was comprised of General Counsels from a great mix of FTSE 100 blue chip corporations to high growth companies, offering a great blend of cultures and leadership styles.
The event was held under Chatham House rules and started with a discussion about the characteristics of a good leader and moved to a refreshingly honest share and tell session about personal stories of leadership.
ABOUT THE HOSTS
Our Managing Director, Scott, started his legal career as a Corporate Lawyer before also completing client rsecondments in-house. He founded Heriot Brown to contribute to the growing in-house legal market.
We were delighted to be joined by Dean Nash, ex Chief Legal & Risk Officer at Monzo Bank and current General Legal Counsel at TransferWise, who Chaired the discussion.
THE ROLE OF GENERAL COUNSEL AS A LEADER
We kicked off the discussion by asking the question, ‘What does it mean to be a leader and how does this apply to the role of the General Counsel?” It was agreed among the group that being a leader and General Counsel could be broken down in to 3 or 4 distinct categories:
1. LEADING THE LEGAL FUNCTION AND HIRING WELL
- SERVICING THE INTERNAL CUSTOMERS
- THE ETHICAL LEADERSHIP REQUIRED AS A GENERAL COUNSEL TO BE THE BUSINESSES
“MORAL COMPASS” OR “PORT IN A STORM”; AND
- EXTERNAL LEADERSHIP, BY BEING A STRONG REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ORGANISATION AT EXTERNAL EVENTS.
The importance of an effective balance between these prongs was picked up on by a number of people in attendance; this leads to having a harmony between facilitating corporate strategy and maintaining integral team values. One of the attendees, a General Counsel for a FTSE100 insurance group, highlighted the importance of a General Counsel in unlocking complicated projects for his business.
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF GOOD LEADERSHIP
Our panel represented a wide range of backgrounds, some leading small teams, some leading large teams, which all require their own particular styles. However, it was agreed that the common characteristics of great leaders are:
1. HIGH INTEGRITY AND HONESTY
- EMPOWERS AND DEVELOPS PEOPLE
- HUMBLE AND GOOD LISTENER
- VISIONARY AND INSPIRING
- CARING AND COMPASSIONATE
A number of interesting points were raised in how some of the General Counsel in attendance have drawn from the range of leadership techniques they have witnessed in different departments within their organisation. Understanding how best to lead your team must be achieved through self-reflection; and often looking at “what problem are you trying to solve”. The “one size fits all” principle does not work!
The discussion was then opened up to looking at the lesson that can be learned from our own foibles and how to manage them whilst adapting to other people’s styles.
You can do this by thinking about a good or bad leader that you have encountered at some time during your career (they don’t have to be a lawyer). What characteristics did they possess? This was a question which filtered through our discussion, and lead to some interesting perspectives. Authenticity; a personal attribute, indicates the importance of being trustworthy, approachable and your most authentic self! Recognise your commercial drivers, know your motivations and embody your colleagues.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Whilst everyone was in agreement and displayed a hunger
to improve and push your colleagues to strive for the best, the most important characteristic of a leader is accountability. Being able to admit your mistakes will help your employees do the same. A culture of openness, honesty, and learning will enhance professional development and create honest conversation. Be self-aware, listen to the support of others and actively avoid negative traits; no-one is perfect, but actively reflecting on your leadership techniques will naturally create a positive growth within your team.
Thank you to Dean Nash for leading such an informative event. Again, thank you to everyone who joined and participated in our round table. It was fascinating to hear varying perspectives on leadership and top tips for being a successful leader.
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