Grant general counsel legal knowledge and judgment. Grant them the ability to manage up and across their peers. What about managing down? Even if a general counsel avoids managerial ineptitude, some shortcomings in leading members of a law department are common, including the six below. I have listed them in what I perceive to be their declining frequency (See my post of March 30, 2009: inept management practices.).
Poor communicator – the general counsel who does not timely and completely share with the team what he or she learns (within the bounds of corporate and personnel confidentiality)
Unpredictable – difficult to guess what the general counsel will do, which makes people insecure and leads to too many decisions bucked up to the top lawyer (See my post of Jan. 25, 2009: bottleneck managers.)
Perceived as unfair – the worst form of this is playing favorites, but the broader manifestation is a pattern of unequal treatment
Dominating – unwilling or unable to let others voice their opinions or make decisions
Indecisive – reluctant to make difficult calls within a reasonable time
Low tolerance for different styles – the general counsel likes clones of him- or herself (See my post of Nov. 9, 2007: psychometric tests with 17 references.).