January 25, 2024

TPL Insights #206 – The Importance of Hiring a General Counsel Who Complements Your Leadership Team

By Rob Andrews

In today’s complex and fast-paced business environment, having a skilled legal advisor is crucial for any organization. But hiring a great general counsel requires careful planning and a diagnostic approach.

In every organization, the role of a general counsel has evolved beyond traditional legal expertise. Savvy senior leaders now recognize the importance of hiring a general counsel with broader business acumen, one who compliments the entire leadership team. In this blog post, we will explore why it is essential for every organization to have a general counsel capable and motivated not only to check the legal, risk, and compliance requirements, but also to round out and compliment the leadership team as a whole.

Rounding Out the Leadership Team

In peak performing organizations, the leadership team owns every issue. For this reason and others, it is critical that GCs are not hired in a vacuum. Rather, the position spec must clearly articulate what is necessary for the new GC to integrate seamlessly into the organization and add immediate value. Here are ten imperatives to consider before you set out to hire your next general counsel:

Cultural Fit

The culture of an organization is shaped by its leadership team. When hiring the GC, it is crucial to assess their cultural fit within the organization. This includes considering their values, work style, and ability to align with the existing team’s culture. A strong cultural fit ensures that the new hire can contribute to a positive and productive work environment.

Skillset Alignment

Each member of the team brings a unique set of skills and expertise to the table. When hiring a general counsel, it is essential to consider their skillset and ensure that it aligns with the needs and gaps within the team. This ensures that the team has a diverse range of skills and can effectively tackle the challenges and opportunities that arise.

Team Dynamics

Team dynamics play a crucial role in the overall success of the organization. Hiring a new general counsel who complements the rest of the team helps maintain a harmonious and collaborative work environment. It ensures that the team can work together effectively, leveraging each other’s strengths and supporting one another.

Balanced Perspectives

Different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives can bring fresh ideas and innovative solutions to the table. When hiring a general counsel, it is important to consider their unique perspective and ensure that it adds value to the overall decision-making process. This helps avoid group think and promotes a more well-rounded approach to problem-solving.

Leadership Style

When hiring a new GC, consider how their leadership style will affect the existing team. This helps create a balanced leadership approach and ensures that the team can effectively lead and inspire the rest of the organization.

Strategic Decision-Making

A general counsel with the ability to understand and apply business principles will contribute significantly to strategic decision-making. They possess a deep understanding of the company’s goals, operations, and industry dynamics. This knowledge allows them to provide valuable insights and guidance when it comes to legal matters that impact the overall business strategy. By aligning legal considerations with business objectives, a general counsel can help the organization make informed decisions that mitigate risks and drive growth.

Risk Management

Effective risk management is a critical aspect of any business. The right general counsel can identify potential legal risks and proactively develop strategies to mitigate them. They can assess the legal implications of various business initiatives, contracts, and partnerships, ensuring compliance with regulations and minimizing potential liabilities. By taking a proactive approach to risk management, a general counsel can protect the company’s interests and reputation.

Business Development

A general counsel with a broader understanding of the business landscape can identify opportunities for growth, such as mergers and acquisitions, strategic partnerships, and new market entry. They can assess the legal implications of these initiatives and guide the organization through the necessary processes.

Cost Leadership

By hiring a general counsel who understands the intricacies of busines, companies can avoid unnecessary legal expenses. They can provide practical solutions that align with the company’s goals and financial resources. They can also effectively manage external legal counsel, ensuring that the company receives cost-effective and high-quality legal services.

Stakeholder Engagement

The ideal general counsel can manage relationships with various stakeholders, including clients, investors, regulators, and employees. They  can navigate complex situations to maintain positive relationships. This skill is particularly valuable during times of crisis or when dealing with regulatory challenges.

Summary

In today’s environment, hiring a general counsel who fits the needs of the organization is essential. By combining legal expertise with a deep understanding of the business landscape and the right personal attributes, a general counsel can contribute significantly to strategic decision-making, risk management, business development, cost efficiency, and stakeholder management. As companies face increasing legal complexities, having a general counsel who can provide holistic advice is a valuable asset.

An effective approach to hiring the best general counsel for your business or nonprofit could begin with an assessment of your existing leadership team. While every client is different, we frequently begin engagements with an assessment of the leadership team using Gallup Strengths FinderTM, The Blueprint Toolset, and our own Total Performance LeadershipTM inventory. The combination of these tools gives us a clear feel for cultural health, cultural climate, and the degree to which individual members and the organization itself may be held back by limiting beliefs. Once we help our client get clear about their current state of affairs, the road map to a peak performance culture becomes clear. Please give us a call, and let’s discuss your next leadership team hire.

Warmest Regards,

Rob