In our most recent episode of the CLOing podcast, we sat down with Damien Atkins, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel at Aura. Before joining Aura, Mr. Atkins was the senior vice president and general counsel at The Hershey Company, where he was responsible for leading the corporate secretary, government relations, legal and corporate security functions.

During this podcast, we spoke about key principles that GCs need to keep in mind as they navigate their career and grow as a successful GC. This past fall, Damien shared insights from his career during a talk at the 2022 TechGC global summit, where he translated his own experience into 8 key principles that every GC should follow.

TechGC members can access Damien’s presentation along with all the content from our global summit on our BrainTrust platform. Listen to the full episode above and watch videos where Damien dives into each of his 8 principles below.

1. Make your perceived value greater than your expected value

Are you able to solve problems that the CEO didn’t know that they had while also increasing execution and velocity in your business? Can you do things faster while also saving resources, i.e., do more with less? Doing this will increase your perceived value in the company and make you a trusted leader within your company.

2. No one is coming to save you

People won’t help you unless it benefits their own interests or goals in some way, so always make sure that you have contingency plans while simultaneously understanding what other people’s interests are.

3. Never get high on your own supply

The continuous desire for excellence will keep you on your toes. Don’t ever get too comfortable – always double down on your efforts, especially when you’re doing well.

4. Systems beat goals

Systems and processes will give you an increased likelihood of consistently beating your goals. Continually tweaking and optimizing your processes is a key part of being successful in any role you take on.

5. Gotta have grit, gotta know when to quit

Success in life (and your career) isn’t just about having grit. Knowing when to quit or change course is just as important as knowing when to double down.

6. What happens in legal stays in legal

The best legal teams are the ones that truly trust each other. The foundation of trust within a legal department is understanding that what’s done is house, stays in house. Allowing an external narrative develop about what’s happening within your team is detrimental to your team’s success.

7. Can’t coach crazy

If employees aren’t the most pleasant people to work with but are still are impactful and effective, you can work with that and coach them on ways to improve. However, someone who consistently causes disruption and misalignment isn’t a person you want on your team.

8. Must successfully deal with soldiers, snipers, and spies

There will be 3 types of people you’ll consistently have to manage. Soldiers, who are are effective team players, snipers, who sabotage your efforts, and spies, who are people who you can’t fully trust. Snipers should be eliminated as soon as possible, and spies can be coached into being team players with effort (however, it may be better to just to let them go).

Want more insights that will help you advance in your career as a GC? Subscribe to the CLOing podcast. To get access to in-depth GC-focused content and a community of experts, apply for TechGC membership today.