Coaching in-house counsel helps perfect their game

Executive training can take in-house lawyers to the next level

Check out our exclusive online advice in Effective communication for in-house counsel

There’s no denying the effects of a coach on his pupil. The most readily identifiable analogy is athletics, in which a professional coach will drill, instruct and mold his athletes—sometimes young and raw, other times experienced veterans in need of further refinement or structure—into whatever their talents dictate their roles to be.

Personal Drive

Sometimes, however, individuals seek out coaches on their own. People often desire help with conquering challenges related to interpersonal relationships with peers. They also regularly feel there are certain areas in which they can improve their abilities or want to learn better leadership skills to increase their teams’ effectiveness. Another reason individuals frequently solicit coaches is because they’re frustrated with their work situation and are looking to—or think they may want to—make a change.

Private Practice

Colleen Batcheler, executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of ConAgra Foods Inc., underwent this type of training process after the company tapped her for the GC role. The HR department informed her that an executive coaching team was available to help with the transition, and she decided to meet with the coaches to see if they were a good fit. Ensuring there’s a solid rapport and foundation of trust is crucial, she says, to make the effort worthwhile. “There’s an element of vulnerability that you need to really show to make the most of the experience,” she explains.

Stirring Results

The benefits of coaching for in-house lawyers are manifold. While it’s still very much a personal decision and journey, Batcheler believes in-house lawyers in leadership positions should really devote the time needed to hone their people-development skills. Doing so, she says, will lead to a more engaged team and more effective results.

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