The 8 Habits of Successful GCs Includes Being 'Mischievous'

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on July 03, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The most successful general counsel show low “excitability” but are highly “mischievous,” according to a new report that highlights the eight habits of highly effective legal executives.

Just what does being “mischievous” mean? It means going “well beyond spotting legal issues to helping the business actually take risks and find creative solutions,” according to the report by executive-search firm Russell Reynolds Associates. In fact, the”best” legal executives are 11% more willing to take risks than less-effective legal execs, the report found.

In addition to mischief and low excitability, the rest of the eight habits of successful GCs are:

  • Decisiveness,
  • Social Boldness,
  • Striving for Achievement,
  • Social Confidence,
  • Competitiveness, and
  • Persuasiveness.

"Taken together, our findings suggest that legal executives should strive to become what we call the 'calm risk taker," the report states.

To that end, RRA suggests "decreasing excitability and increasing mischievousness" through various on-the-job experiences. For example, volunteering for a leadership role in crisis management, or with a team that's leanly staffed or geographically isolated, can work to decrease a legal executive's excitability.

Other activities such as participating in a new-product development exercise or leading a strategic-planning session (without focusing on the legal implications) can help make a legal executive more "mischievous," the report states.

The report also found that general counsels' successful habits aren't all that different from those found in the non-legal world. RRA's report is based on an analysis of 3,000 assessment tests that measured legal executives' skills in decision-making, communication, and relationships.

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