As part of Borenius’ series of round table discussions on lawyer leadership for general counsel we arranged a session on how to improve one’s position within the inner circle of an organization. We were joined by our facilitator, psychologist Ilona Rauhala, and our lively discussion gave rise to the following points:

  1. Great lawyers make complex issues sound simple. C-suite colleagues are short of time. Compose your message, keep it brief. Be mindful of the language you use. Talk human. Don’t lawyer yourself out of your peer group.
  2. Pay attention to chemistry. Think about how different individuals like to be approached and what makes them tick. Use appropriate language and be easily approachable. Be confident not arrogant.
  3. Make your “internal client” and colleagues feel respected and look good in the eyes of the organization.
  4. Remember that you can always develop your communication skills. Help others realize the same. Dare to ask when you don’t understand. Develop your sense of awareness and which hat to wear.
  5. Understand your role within the company. Try to be a strategic partner and understand the corporate culture and the existence of sub-cultures. Understand who is your “internal client” and learn which are the best channels for addressing the issues that you find critical for the company. Develop networks within and outside the company.
  6. Handle important communication and key contacts face-to-face.
  7. Don’t underestimate the role of humor and joy in building trust.