The Mentorist


A Legend in His Own Mind: How to Write a Self-Appraisal

Apparently, I’d hired Alexander the Great.

Working incognito as one of my staff lawyers, he’d chosen to write a self-appraisal that would blow his cover:  This guy was God’s gift to men (and, to the extent they touched his career, women).

His delusions of grandeur annoyed me.  Big time.

More importantly, I wondered how someone so far down on the self-awareness scale could ever hope to overcome (or, at minimum, work around) his weaknesses.

Shrinks have been telling us for years that acknowledging the need for change is the first step toward getting there.  Applying that notion to the business world, you realize why people who present themselves as perfect tend to have bumpy trips to the top (if they don’t stall out from the get-go). Continue reading

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In-House Lowdown: Proving Your Worth When the Waters Are Calm

‘In-House Lowdown’ is a series of blog posts designed to help lawyers navigate the in-house world.  Its observations are based on my 20+ years as a General Counsel, spent managing legal teams and herding assorted breeds of corporate cats.

I miss Dan Quayle.

His loopy pronouncements meant anyone could write good stand-up comedy.  Better yet, a Quayle quote could so perfectly nail a work frustration of mine that I simply had to step back, laugh and gain some needed perspective.

A case in point:  One of the most difficult political aspects of being an in-house lawyer, I’ve found, is figuring out how to get credit from your business people for legal fiascos that didn’t happen on your watch. Continue reading

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Talk a Mile in My Shoes: Overcoming Conflict with Your Boss (or, Really, Anyone)

I like to hire strong-headed people.  They’ve got minds of their own — and have no problem telling me when they think I’ve lost mine.  (Imagine teenagers, but with highly developed executive functions….)

Most of the time, this approach works wonders:  I feel challenged, they feel respected and the entire team produces results we couldn’t have otherwise.

But with strong wills come occasional strong impasses.  I’m thinking, in particular, of a time when one of my trusted ‘lieutenants’ handled a work travel situation in a way that — although quasi-legitimate — served his personal interest a bit too much, while making it harder for me, as team leader, to meet the budget numbers I had signed up for.

I was not amused. Continue reading