The Strategic Business Counsel: The ‘8C’ Model

What is the ideal twenty-first century GC like? We believe the best term for them is ‘strategic business counsel’. Over the following pages we set out a model which attempts to visualise the factors that combine to make strategic business counsel capable of operating at the highest level within their organisation.

Our model has been developed through hundreds of conversations with GCs in a wide variety of jurisdictions. Some parts of it may resonate with you more than others. It would be wrong to underestimate the impact of local conditions, just as particular employers, and the characters of GCs themselves, can lead to very different situations. Nevertheless, we believe that – as our several results show – GCs around the world have a great deal in common, and that each of the ‘8Cs’ in the model is an important aspect of strategic business counsel life for the vast majority of them.

In each case, we’ve tried to explain what’s significant for the GC and to follow our explanation with some thought-provoking questions.

Some of our previous GC reports have included tools for GCs seeking to improve aspects of their performance. This is not a tool as such, but we hope it will help GCs who are thinking about what they do and how they do it.

One challenge is that some of these areas are more within the GC’s control than others. In some cases, the biggest difficulty for the GC may be finding the right modus operandi to achieve both the company’s goals and their own.

Our model shows what helps a GC to move up the Value Pyramid. A GC who scores highly in this model while being on a low level of the GC pyramid – or who judges themselves to be at the top of the pyramid but is a low achiever in terms of the 8C model – will want to think about the reasons for that disconnect. Are they in the wrong role? Is their opinion of themselves not matched by what others think? Or have they so far succeeded while maintaining a narrow focus – and, if so, do they now have an opportunity to spread their wings?

We know that not all GCs face the same problems and challenges – although most of the GCs who have seen this model, or earlier versions of it, have been enthusiastic. But we hope our ‘8Cs’ will, at the very least, provide the material for some fruitful reflection and discussion

Key contacts

Contact
Felipe Arze Abogado Corporativo
Luis Felipe Arze, LL.M
Partner
T +56 22 4852 073
Jonathan Warne
Jonathan Warne
Partner
T +44 20 7524 6130

Contribution

The GC will inevitably be judged by their contribution to the business, and by the contribution of his team. It’s something we’ve covered extensively in our other GC reports, so we won’t say much more about it here – except to add that, while the contribution of a good GC will always greatly exceed what can be measured, there will always be elements of any GC’s performance (and the performance of anyone else – internal or external – providing legal services) that can, in one way or another, be captured as data.

As Rafael Cox of CMPC points out: "I believe that I am truly operating at a strategic level, either because I have managed to build an approach to demonstrate legal value or because circumstances have given me the opportunity to demonstrate the real value that in-house counsel can bring to the business."

There are times when measurement seems less relevant. Crisis management is a good example. If a GC successfully steers a company through an existential crisis, the chances are no-one will really care about measuring his performance while he does it.

But the question for most GCs is more likely to be: how do I show that my performance, and the performance of my team are helping our company to avoid such crises? Given the continued scrutiny from regulators, this proactive stance is increasingly significant. In daily life, the skills and achievement involved in keeping the corporate wagon on the road may go unappreciated.

Questions

  • Do you use KPIs? If not, how do you measure performance and demonstrate your contribution?
  • If you do have KPIs, how could you make them more effective?
  • Have you integrated KPIs with your talent management programme (if you have one)?
  • How do you ensure you get value from outside resources?
  • What single thing would most greatly increase your contribution to your organisation? And what single thing would most easily increase your contribution?