An article in the Harv. Bus. Rev., Vol. 85, March 2007 at 115, describes 23 human capital management practices in five broad categories (See my posts of May 11, 2007 with the first 9 practices and May 28, 2007 with the final 14.). With some bracketed text to orient these ideas for law departments, here are my references and comments on the five practices under the category “Leadership Practices”:
1. Communication: “With [attorneys with management responsibilities] communication is open and effective” (See my posts of Dec. 7, 2005 on communication time wasters; Oct. 19, 2006 on communication tools; and Nov. 30, 2005 on the clamor for more communication in departments.).
2. Inclusiveness: “[Managing attorneys] collaborate with employees and invite input” (See my posts of April 2, 2006 on forms of collaboration; May 14, 2006 on communication compared to collaboration; Dec. 18, 2006 on a way to assess collaboration; April 13, 2007 #3 on neuroscience and collaboration; and Dec. 9, 2005 on liking colleagues and collaboration.).
3. Supervisory skills: “[Managing attorneys] eliminate barriers, provide feedback, and inspire confidence.”
4. Executive skills: “[The general counsel and direct reports] eliminate barriers, provide feedback, and inspire confidence” (See my post of Oct. 6, 2006 about leadership in law departments.).
5. Systems: “Leadership development and transition systems are effective.” (See my posts of Jan. 20, 2007 on executive coaches and references cited; July 31, 2005 about succession planning; Jan. 4, 2006 on hallmarks of a robust performance management system; May 1, 2005 on sabbaticals and succession; Oct. 10, 2005 on internal competition; as well as March 31, 2007 on high-potential lawyers and references cited.).
It is plausible to include under Leadership Practices some reference to vision setting as well as serving as a role model. Additionally, “inclusiveness” favors very clearly a consensual, almost democratic style of leadership; many general counsel subscribe to the authoritarian, hierarchical view that they make the decisions, albeit maybe after hearing comments from subalterns. I also see no difference between “supervisory skills” and “executive skills.” The latter ought to include at least one task not mentioned: promoting the law department (See my post of Oct. 6, 2006 on this function.).