Leadership mindsets: how to adapt, add greater value and remain relevant as an in-house lawyer

In 2012, LexisNexis and Cranfield School of Management set out to find out how in-house lawyers add value to their organisations. The findings appeared in our joint White Paper, ‘When being a good lawyer is not enough’Fast forward to 2017 and there have been seismic shifts in the legal world. More research was needed to discover how in-house lawyers could best adapt, add greater value and remain relevant and competitive.

In our latest research, ‘From Rhetoric to reality: how in-house lawyers increase their strategic impact and add value’, produced with Dr Paul Hughes at Cranfield School of Management, we asked a series of new questions:

  • How do ‘leadership mindsets’ relate to the differing approaches taken by in-house lawyers?
  • How do in-house lawyers use their discretion when adding value?
  • To what extent do organisations influence how lawyers add value?

The answers provide valuable fresh insights into understanding different approaches to adding value. They make a clear link between the ‘leadership mindsets’ of lawyers and their capacity to influence and add value to a business. The challenge is how to transform this into practical advice for lawyers who want to enhance their strategic impact in a changing business environment.

What are ‘leadership mindsets’?

The ‘leadership mindset’ model is a way of looking at the mental processes and beliefs that provide a framework for understanding how we form our professional worldview. Each mindset type – Expert, Deliverer, Challenger and Strategist/Catalyst – has different attributes and adds value to a business in a different way.

What did we find out?

An understanding of the relationship between leadership mindsets and approaches to adding value is crucial. For those who want to adapt, understanding and utilising this connection helps find ways to add greater value and seize opportunities.

Organisations exert an influence over how lawyers can add value, however the extent of this is mitigated by the type of leadership mindsets lawyers have. Some are far more sensitive to the effects of wider organisational context than others.

What does this mean for in-house lawyers?

  • Attitude, experiences and values all need to be considered when finding ways to help in-house lawyers add more value in their roles. Learning new knowledge is important, but in isolation is unlikely to be sufficient.
  • In-house lawyers who want to develop how they add value first need to develop a self-awareness of why they (or their teams) do things in a certain way.
  • To be effective, best practices need to be shaped and influenced by the leadership mindset of the lawyer carrying them out.

Individuals often interpret their organisation through their own ‘lens’, so to understand what an organisation’s wider context and strategic priorities are, lawyers may need to find better, more reliable approaches. Understanding their own leadership mindset and how it is influenced by an organisation is core to successfully adding the greatest value. Otherwise lawyers may only be seeing part of the picture. 

Read a full summary of ‘From Rhetoric to reality: how in-house lawyers increase their strategic impact and add value’ here.

Filed Under: Analysis

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