In your role as in-house counsel, are you primarily a lawyer or primarily a business person?

I asked this question at a workshop I led for The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) last month.

Some bristled initially at the question. It seemed they felt that the answer was obvious: lawyers first, no question. But as the debate developed it became clear that old certainties are changing.

My challenge was: If you take the “corporate shilling”, do you not have a duty to help grow the business first, within the law, like every other employee? There was again some initial pushback on this and, it seemed to me, genuine discomfort at the dichotomy of gamekeeper versus poacher, as they might see it.

My view is that in-house counsel and the business are better served if they join the management team fully, just as the CFO does. He or she has to be as much of “a cop” as in-house counsel.

What do you think?  Please join the debate by posting your comments below.

You might also like to watch my video interview with Paul Gilbert, CEO LBC Wise Counsel where I discuss these issues in more detail.

At Twickenham on Saturday I saw Richard Cotteril’s management techniques in action…

…as his Leicester Tigers beat Northampton in The Aviva Premiership Final. According to The Times on Saturday he uses old fashioned coaching methods by predicting the play statistics and training for them. I don’t know the game well enough to understand this, although my lawyer hosts knew everything about it (sic). It was very exciting to watch and they won but the outcome wasn’t as predictable as it might have appeared, as the match report illustrates: The Times.

It was the relationships on the field what won it – and lost it – in my view.

Ciaran Fenton

[kee-ron]

“Taking job satisfaction measures…is a hard-minded thing to do” says Prof. Andrew Oswald…

…in today’s www.ft.com/bized-video. In the same piece, Prof. Jane Dutton says “never underestimate the value of relationships…the more you build conditions for people to build high quality connections, the more you increase happiness”. And before you feel that all this is a bit wet , there appears to be gathering evidence that happiness is good for the bottom line. Who’s surprised? But when will we see “number of high quality connections”, achieved against budget, in a Board Report? In some organisations, pigs will fly. In others, the penny has dropped.

Ciaran Fenton

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“Taking job satisfaction measures…is a hard-minded thing to do” says Prof. Andrew Oswald…

…in today’s www.ft.com/bized-video. In the same piece, Prof. Jane Dutton says “never underestimate the value of relationships…the more you build conditions for people to build high quality connections, the more you increase happiness”. And before you feel that all this is a bit wet , there appears to be gathering evidence that happiness is good for the bottom line. Who’s surprised? But when will we see “number of high quality connections”, achieved against budget, in a Board Report? In some organisations, pigs will fly. In others, the penny has dropped.

Ciaran Fenton

20130520-091324.jpg

A master class on how leaders can say “sorry”…

Last evening the train driver on our commuter train missed the penultimate stop. Over the PA system he said “I’m very sorry. I forgot to stop at that station; it’s entirely my fault, and not as is sometimes the case, that of the train operator, or the train. I will be available at the front of the train at the final stop if anyone wants to shout at me”. Despite the inconvenience most passengers smiled wryly, some laughed out loud and one said nearby: “At least he ‘fessed up”. I can’t help but think that some of the commuters were comparing his behaviour with their experiences at work. Some leaders never apologise, many don’t know how. Our train driver gave a master class.

Ciaran Fenton
[kee-ron]

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