Successful startup founders and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) grow to the point where they need a top-tier in-house legal team, and that often begins with the search for a leader to build it out. If you’re looking to go in-house, whether it’s for your career path, work-life balance, or other reasons, you need to know what CEOs are looking for when they hire a General Counsel (GC.)
Choosing a GC is an important decision for the future of any company. Likewise, selecting the CEO you work for is crucial for the next step in your career. Here are four signs that you’re talking to the right CEO.
They Know What a GC Brings to the Business
An in-house attorney is an expert in every aspect of the business. Therefore, they are able to provide tailored, actionable legal advice and distinctive input on business decisions. While law firms are highly risk-averse, an in-house legal leader shouldn’t be. In fact, in-house counsel needs to be comfortable taking risks. The right CEO is looking for a legal leader that will help the business take calculated risks and make informed decisions that move the business towards its goals.
They Care About Your Attitude
Your attitude and mindset are essential to the right CEO. You can’t be afraid to make a call in this role, which comes down to having and owning your point of view. When the company is making an important decision, the executive team needs a legal leader that is willing to take action and make the call to take on almost certain risk at times, in order to accomplish a business objective. A CEO should clearly communicate their expectations when it comes to how to address risk, provide input, take thoughtful positions, and drive business results. Make sure you see eye-to-eye on these areas.
They’re Looking for Composure During Critical Moments
Litigation or controversy involving your business is always possible, and a good legal leader understands that. When a company experiences its first lawsuit or major controversy, chaos and worry at the company level can accompany it. You should be asked about your experience managing crises or chaotic events during the interview process. At the end of the day, CEOs don’t want to rely on a legal leader who is unwilling to take a risk simply because they lack crisis management skills.
They Aren’t Looking for a Leader for the Team of “No”
Numbers don’t lie. A Gartner report revealed that the most effective GCs are 51% better at executing corporate initiatives than their counterparts. Smart CEOs bring legal leaders on board to build a legal function that makes the right legal decisions without slowing down progress. A legal department that becomes the “no” department is a red flag; your CEO will expect better. Be the strategic leader who can deliver in high-stress, high-impact situations and solves complex problems.