If it's in the HBR, it must be true. So here are the five from the Harv. Bus. Rev., March 2010 at 24: "Keep people informed, listen, set clear objectives, match the person with the job, and create meaningful work." How applicable are these principles in a legal department?
Keep people informed. True everywhere as a tonic for engagement, and perhaps even more true for a collection of highly educated professionals. But I think many legal departments fall very far short of transparency. For example, in virtually all the departments where I have consulted, the lawyers who are not the general counsel's direct reports speculate and wonder what happens in the senior staff meetings.
Listen. Honored in the breach. As busy as senior lawyers are or feel they are, they often don't leave time for focused attention to what someone is saying. They discount the person, they clash in terms of personality or conversational style, they have their own priorities that are more important, they just don't care. It happens with children: parents check out. It happens with those who supervise in legal departments.
To read about principles three through five, and how they apply to in-house attorneys, visit the Law Department Management Blog.