San Francisco (March 10, 2021) – Powered by LawFuel – Morrison & Foerster, a leading global law firm, today announced the results of its “Leading with Influence” global study, which offers insights into the most significant areas of development and drivers of change for today’s general counsel (GC), as GCs navigate increasingly complex roles at a time when pressures could not be higher.
The study report includes insights into the ideal characteristics of the GC of the future versus their current state, and how these compare to other executive functions, and the GC’s key attitudes and aptitudes as leaders, including both strengths and possible blindspots. The report also serves as a practical skills manual and includes behavioral examples to help GCs assess their strengths and determine learning opportunities.
The research revealed four themes that GCs can use to increase their influence and effect change in their organizations:
- The role of legal leaders in organizational change: Whether a GC perceives themselves to be a change maker is often linked to their proximity to the C-suite/CEO, or their influencing capital, as well as the broader attitude toward change across the organizational culture, sector, and their geographic location;
- Humanizing workplace relationships and workplaces: The overwhelming majority of senior legal executives surveyed look up to world leaders, within politics and business, who actively demonstrate a “people-first” mindset. Highlighted by the continued work-from-home environment, future-fit GCs need to demonstrate holistic values, such as respect for people’s personal circumstances, deep connectedness, humility, honesty, empathy, patience, and compassion;
- 360 adaptive leadership: GCs recognize they must adapt their leadership traits and strategies to influence a variety of stakeholders, from coaching and developing their own teams to influencing strategic C-suite or board conversations; and
- Well-rounded leaders – Left brain meets right brain: While legal leaders’ primary contribution is, and will remain, their legal counsel, the research points toward the evolution of the GC from the technical and transactional advisor toward a creative, big-picture thinker.
“Against the backdrop of an ongoing pandemic, leadership matters now more than ever. Legal leaders can significantly increase their influence within their organizations and improve engagement within their teams and C-suite executives by adopting a flexible approach to engaging with various stakeholders,” said Morrison & Foerster Managing Partner Tessa Schwartz. “Leading with Influence allows GCs to assess and benchmark their current behavior, cultivate leadership skills, and apply best practices to increase their influence within their organizations and beyond the legal department.”
The competencies identified by the study for a GC to hone in order to be future-fit include: adapting to change; providing direction; being interpersonally astute; working under pressure; conceptualizing strategies; and working together. Building these skills will allow GCs to expand their influence in organizations and help guide them through future challenges.
For the study, Morrison & Foerster conducted both qualitative and quantitative research to understand the competencies required for the GC of the future. Find out more about the skills required to be a future-fit GC by downloading the report.
About Leading With Influence
Conducted in partnership with Global Leaders in Law and experts from Lazarus & Maverick, a global leadership development and high-performance executive coaching consultancy, the study included interviews with more than 30 global GCs and a survey of nearly 120 global senior executives to understand the competencies crucial to the GC of the future to enable individual career growth and to future proof their teams and organizations. The research included companies in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the United States. The voices represented diverse industries from many locations around the world, including Armenia, Australia, Austria, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, India, Israel, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the United States.
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