How a performance coach supports hyper-growth legal teams.
#1 – VISION
CONNECTING VISION TO REALITY
An in-house performance coach supports leadership in visualizing and creating clarity around their vision for a high-performing legal team.
Vision: Many leaders assume the role of CLO or General Counsel without having asked themselves, “what type of leader do I want to be?”, or explored the question “what kind of team am I seeking to cultivate?” Performance coaches support the CLO with defining the highest vision for the team and then fusing this with a solid strategy.
Tangible Goals: Once vision is established, an in-house performance coach can collaborate with the CLO, department lead, and legal ops professionals to set KPIs and OKRs (Objective key results, as rolled out at Google) and strategically support them with translating a vision into concrete goals.
Data-Driven: Performance coaches support and facilitate awareness and understanding of how the leadership vision connects to the day-to-day realities that the team is experiencing by collecting data and metabolizing team feedback.
Through coaching, strategic partnership, and thought leadership, an in-house performance coach accelerates the journey to creating and maintaining a Level 7 team.
#2 – ENERGY MANAGEMENT
Get the best out of a team and its key players.
Every team, organization, and person has its own unique energy!
Energy can be anabolic (building up, constructive, and motivating), or catabolic (destructive and breaking downforce).
When surveying GC’s and CLO’s from around the globe in 2020, we found the following phrases were used when describing a team at its best:
“Synergistic,” “innovative,” “agile and responsive,” “respected thought partners,” “an electric team that everyone wants to be part of”.
The global pandemic has placed a significant strain on legal teams around the globe. It has resulted in workload increasing which, coupled with hiring constraints, means it is not uncommon for team members to feel overloaded and reactive (catabolic) rather than synergistic, collaborative, and in-flow (anabolic).
Performance science shows that those team members who experience overload, poor leadership, and negative interpersonal relationships are more likely to feel demotivated and disengaged.
Catabolic energy directly affects attrition rates and contributes to higher levels of churn.
MEASURING TEAM ENERGY
An in-house performance coach may use tools to measure a team’s energy to provide some measurable data points to work with. One such tool is the ICF accredited ‘Energy Leadership Index,’ which works by measuring multiple lawyers of behaviors and emotions and results in a sophisticated profile of day-to-day energy levels and stress responses of team members. A Master ELI Practitioner can then use these data points to influence individual and team performance strategy.
Once the vision and energy of the team has been identified, an in-house performance coach can then work to harness performance through the power of energy, building an anabolic team.
HARNESSING ENERGY THROUGH PEAK PERFORMANCE
A large part of coaching is about managing energy — teaching individuals to utilize their physical, mental, and emotional energy for maximum stamina and effectiveness.
Using data from initial energy assessments to understand the base energy of the team, an in-house performance coach can then collaborate with leadership to guide strategy and support individuals through a range of mindset, communication, and performance techniques to elevate that energy. Energy assessments can be taken every quarter to bi-annually to measure improvements and understand focus areas.
#3: THOUGHT PARTNERSHIP + MINDSET MASTERY
Working with an in-house performance coach who understands the high-growth startup microclimate can be a massive advantage for legal team leaders.
For legal team leaders, having space to share complex challenges acts as a sounding board and thought-partner, highlighting blind spots, and supporting the development of team performance strategies. Such relationships where trust is high and there is mutual respect can be game-changing for a company’s progression.
Not only does a leader gain objective insights and counsel to further team performance, but also has a container for self-exploration to examine any mindset limitations which may be holding them back, such as imposter syndrome, a strong inner-critic, self-doubt, or fear of not having the “right” answer or strategy.
Case Study: A formerly high-performing team member loses confidence
Objective: Support team member with reigniting his energy after he starts faltering compared to his peers. An in-house performance coach can ignite energy so that the team performs at its best.
James, a team member, recently received feedback based on some KPIs that he was underperforming. He’s unable to shake the feeling that he’s a failure, and his work is further suffering due to his energetic decline.
James books a coaching call with his in-house performance coach to work through his block.
James recognizes that he is stuck in catabolic energy, heavy, overloaded and demotivated. James is coached around his mindset and recalls that he saved the company $15m last quarter. James develops a strategy to shift his energy from catabolic to anabolic. James, re-energized by the coaching session, can swiftly shift back into his usually powerful problem-solving mindset. Soon enough, he’s working on another multi-million dollar solution, and the CEO is delighted!
#4: CULTURE BUILDING
Hiring an in-house performance coach experienced in legal and core services is a great way to build and maintain a synergistic, high-performing team culture. Aside from the obvious improvement in team performance, investing in coaching for employees also empowers underrepresented employees, which can form part of a team’s overall DE&I strategy. Training leaders on crucial soft-skill areas, such as communication and leadership, creates an environment for all team members’ psychological safety.
#5: DISTRIBUTED TEAMS
Nearly two years into the pandemic, teams are returning to work. Here in Silicon Valley, there’s a real mix of approaches to the topic “return to work.” We see teams moving to a hybrid or entirely distributed model while other groups are back in the office full-time.
Working with innovative legal teams across the globe, we know that realizing the vision of a high-performing, fully distributed legal team is possible. Offering flexible and remote working enables startup legal teams to have a competitive edge over big tech, with the more rigid return to work policies.
To build and maintain culture on an entirely distributed team, investing in creating meaningful connections, and developing trust and camaraderie between team members is crucial. CLO’s are doing this through regular quarterly workshops, team masterminds, and one-to-one and leadership coaching access to support.
Investing in a high-performance coach for leaders and legal teams helps to ensure a connected, anabolic, high-energy environment.
Are You Ready to Hire An In-House Performance Coach for Your Legal Team?
Traditionally, investments have been made in generic coaching, delivered by professionals without legal expertise, or in coaching for revenue-generating teams (sales coaching, etc.).
The above examples are just some reasons high-growth startups invest in coaching services specific to the legal environment.
Because the core services function is an incremental part of any business, investing in your team’s performance is vital to protect revenue and boost the bottom line.
Investing in a legally trained, in-house performance coach is one of the most valuable investments you can make.
If you are interested in hearing more about how I can support your startup, please do not hesitate to book a 45-minute, complimentary exploratory conversation.