Professionals talk about shaking off a reputation as ‘TROUBLE’

by | Sep 1, 2023 | Career Planning, Personal Brand, Professional Confidence

Recently I’ve been talking a lot about the particular requirements of a leader’s brand, and on developing a targeted leadership brand that overcomes common brand challenges for legal counsel and other specialist advisors within organisations.

After working with the Association of Corporate Council’s Australian team, board and committees and meeting some of the global leadership team last year, it was good to return in May for ACC’s In-House Legal Conference in Western Australia, to be among a network I know is particularly vibrant, and a committee doing great things!

With the conference theme being ‘Transform Together’, and the opening speakers talking about ‘seeing around corners’ and the ‘opportunity for impact’, the day was strongly focused on building leadership within corporate counsel, to make a difference in creating future-fit organisations.

NWC session for ACC WA In-House Counsel Day 2023

The best way to learn is from each other… so my session focused on 3 key conversations:

NWC Session Outline for ACCWA In-House Counsel Day 2023

(Yep, since the conference session was called ‘Trouble When you Walked In?’, I threaded in some much-loved Taylor Swift references by request!)

I’ve broken down the 3 Shifts in a previous article, Seen as ‘Trouble’ or ‘Vital Partner’?, explaining what needs to change in your mindset and communication style to be given a seat at the decision-making table.

Here, I want to share some of the things that I heard in preparation for this session, and during the discussions at the conference, that really shine a light on the personal brand challenges in-house lawyers, external consultants and other advisors face to challenge the reputation of ‘trouble’!

How in-house lawyers are seen as trouble, NWC 2023

Now, as Taylor would say, it takes one to know one. My own journey building a consulting practice working with legal, finance, accounting and other professional service clients around Australia didn’t start there…

I was challenged by:

  • Being believable as I ‘stepped up’ through different contexts, with different sized clients, and with different (increasingly senior) audiences.
  • Learning quickly, and then bringing confidence and conviction, to be given the opportunity I knew I was ready for!
  • Finding how my ‘teacher’ foundation and ’directive’ personality could help or hinder my results as a consultant and advisor coming into different senior leadership spaces and working with different ‘power’ personalities!

Some of the shifts I’ve heard professional advisors, like in-house lawyers, say they’ve had to make include:

  • From an Order-Taker… to a Change-Leader
  • From a Detail-Dumper… to a Clarity-Bringer
  • From a Technician… to a Decision-Making-Peer
  • From an Outsider… or Integral Business Partner

The most important thing you can do to create a shift is to get clarity on how it is you want to be seen. As one ACC member put it:

“First, think about what you need to do so see yourself in that way – if you don’t see yourself that way, your colleagues won’t either.”

NWC session for ACCA In-House Counsel Day 2023

In preparing for this session, I asked experienced and senior members of ACC, Australia-wide, ‘What do you need to do to be seen as a leader at your organisation?’

Here’s what I heard (…and how about this for tapping into the power and wisdom of networks?):

Feedback from ACC Australia senior members, NWC 2023

I loved chatting with WA’s in-house counsel professionals at the conference, and the session topic was well-received… I’m now presenting it as a national webinar in September, and look forward to more conversations about shifting towards a powerful leadership brand!

“We extend our gratitude to you for delivering a remarkable session at the WA In-House Counsel Day. Your profound vision, extensive knowledge and vast experience will undoubtedly support our in-house community in shaping their path towards the future.” – ACC Australia Team