One of my favorite parts of my job is observing and dissecting the internal dynamics of an in-house legal team. Who are the players and what impact will their voices have on the success of a project? What makes them tick? Why is change so hard for some? Who are the outliers – the lone wolves? How do we lure the lone wolf into the pack?
Having guided hundreds of in-house legal teams through the LegalTech change management process, one thing is clear: it is critical to nurture the pack mentality from day one, including fostering a clear understanding of team, and not solely individual objectives. An understanding of the "why" across your legal team will provide an essential foundation for successful legal technology adoption and minimize anxiety around change.
It is important to identify and target the lone wolves early to minimize the struggle to operate effectively within the pack. The "lone wolf" mentality refers to an individualistic and self-sufficient mindset, where a person prefers to work independently, rather than as part of a group. In the context of in-house lawyers, a "lone wolf" mentality may refer to a lawyer who prefers to work alone and handle all aspects of a legal matter on their own, rather than relying on the support of other colleagues. Such a lawyer may be less willing to collaborate or delegate tasks to others, and often struggles with accepting why change is necessary for the good of the whole team.
While this mentality can provide a sense of control and autonomy, it can also lead to burnout, a lack of willingness to accept a fresh perspective on problem solving, and reliance on a "this is how I’ve always done it" approach. Lone wolves often have a loud, possibly dissenting voice when it comes to change, so addressing this early will play a significant role in creating momentum.
The importance of building a "pack mentality" within your in-house legal team
Building a “pack mentality” within an in-house legal team is an important aspect of creating a strong, cohesive, and effective Legal Department. It is also one of the key elements of success for any in house legal software project and can bring widespread benefits, including:
- Increased support
- Ability to share ideas and knowledge
- Access to a wider network of resources
"Everything in a wolf’s nature tells it to belong to something greater than itself: a pack... They succeed by cooperating, and they struggle when they’re alone."
-- The Social Wolf, Livingwithwolves.org
How can General Counsel foster a "pack mentality"?
Below are a few tips that can help a General Counsel foster a “pack mentality”:
1. Lead by example
Show your legal team that you are a team player and demonstrate a "we’re in this together mentality." Lead with transparency, honesty, and authenticity.
2. Encourage open communication
Encourage your team members to openly communicate with each other and provide a supportive environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing their thoughts and ideas.
3. Foster collaboration
Encourage your team to work together on projects and celebrate collective successes, giving credit to the team and not just individual contributors.
4. Develop trust
Create an environment where your legal team members feel comfortable sharing information and asking for help when needed.
5. Promote teamwork
Encourage teamwork by recognizing the importance of individual contributions and rewarding the team.
6. Build a positive culture
Promote a culture of respect, inclusion, and collaboration. Encourage your team members to support one another.
Additionally, a keen awareness of the diversity and complexity of your team is essential.
"There are old wolves that need to be cared for, pups that need to be educated, and young adults that are beginning to assert themselves – all altering the dynamics of the pack."
-- The Social Wolf Livingwithwolves.org
Tips to help you get started
When you’re kicking off a LegalTech project, give some thought to the dynamics of your pack:
- Who are the old wolves?
- Who are the young pups?
- Who are the young adults who want to assert themselves?
Then ask yourself a few questions:
- Who amongst those groups has the greatest fear of change? Why?
- How can I position my team for the greatest chance at success?
- What roles can each of them play in driving the success of this project?
Yes, change is hard, but effectively nurturing a pack mentality will not only help your legal team thrive in general, it will also reduce anxiety and accelerate the success of your in house legal matter management software adoption.