An ugly side to powerful general counsel – squash competent lawyers so they stay and help you look better

The ideal general counsel, as a selfless developer of people, mentors the lawyers below and helps them maximize their potential. We wish. In the rough-and-tumble real world, cautions Jeffrey Pfeffer, strong performance may harm you if your powerful general counsel refuses to play that nurturing game. “Power holders prefer to keep the most competent performers in their current roles. By keeping these standouts down, those with power not only look better but also are less likely to lose the stellar employees …”

The quote comes from a review of Pfeffer’s book Power: Why some people have it – and others don’t in Talent & Leadership, Q2 2011 at 79. Optimists hope that Pfeffer has picked on a rare perversion of power – bury talent to raise your own stock – but a sneaking suspicion remains that such misapplications of might do happen (See my post of April 23, 2008: bad behavior by managers with 10 references; and March 31, 2009: nine more posts on poor behavior.).

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