De-risking Your Next GC Appointment: The Five Key Personality Factors for Success in the Role


Corporate Counsel | July 5, 2017

The Corporate Counsel article, “De-risking Your Next GC Appointment: The Five Key Personality Factors for Success in the Role,” written by Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Cynthia Dow. She shares five key personality factors for appointing general counsel. The article is excerpted below.

Rapid technological change, rising globalization, and an increasingly intense and far-reaching regulatory environment continue to disrupt business models and impact organizations. The associated enterprise risks—including vulnerability to cyber assaults, a patchwork of privacy and anti-corruption mandates, and an infinite variety of industry-specific regulation—have elevated the role of the corporate general counsel (GC) in virtually every strategic initiative.

What differentiates GCs who will succeed in today’s unpredictable business climate from those who will not? In addition to the traditional considerations of skill set and motivation, five personality factors will decide whether your next GC can influence strategy, steer the ship through crisis situations, and ultimately have a positive impact on your company’s bottom line.

Of course, the first consideration in selecting the ideal GC is whether the individual has the right skill set for the company’s strategy, as well as specific industry issues, regulatory environment, and scope and scale of the legal function. This decision can’t be just about how things are today. With the average Fortune 500 GC tenure at six to seven years, companies should be looking to hire a GC who an navigate the next decade of business challenges.

Four archetypes often emerge:

  • A company might require the “Boardroom GC” who has deep expertise in corporate regulations, securities law, and governance issues, with proper instincts and sound judgement to navigate a complex public company environment.

  • Other organizations need the “Growth GC” who nimbly enables the business to execute an ambitious strategy through both M&A and organic business expansion.

  • A third archetype is the “Regulatory GC” who deftly navigates Capitol Hill as well as state, local, and global regulatory authorities, perhaps enabled by proven litigation prowess or previous leadership roles in government.

  • Alternatively, the “Operational GC” brings a laser focus to building an effective legal and compliance function by driving down cost, improving efficiencies, building business partner engagement and satisfaction, and promoting financial discipline.

Many companies may require a hybrid of archetypes, but the required background and experiences always depends on both the company’s current needs and future goals.

To read the full article​, click here.

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De-risking Your Next GC Appointment: The Five Key Personality Factors for Success in the Role