Interview: Anika Seidenfaden, Coach for Female Leadership/former Corporate Legal Counsel @ Xing

The CLP - Interview series goes into the second round: After the successful prelude with over ten experts from the legal industry, who have betrayed their very personal success tips for a successful legal career, this time ten lawyers will have their say, who coach - legal coaches, who for very different reasons have acquired additional competences with a professional coaching training.

CLP has interviewed these legal coaches in very different positions about what motivated them and how coaching has significantly influenced their professional careers.

Ms Seidenfaden, may we ask you to briefly introduce yourself?

Sure: After my studies in Münster and stations in Paris and New York, I worked for a good 5 years at the beginning of my career in a major international law firm (Dentons, then Salans LLP) in the field of private equity/M&A. After two in-house stations (including as Corporate Counsel at XING, now NewWork SE), I became self-employed in 2018 as a lawyer and coach and currently advise medium-sized companies in the corporate/commercial area.

Within the framework of my Leadership Coaching Program, I support female lawyers in using their talents and skills optimally and profitably for their success. I currently live in Hamburg. The topic of personal development constantly occupies my mind. Besides that, I travel a lot and am incredibly looking forward to my dog, which will start to shake up my life in June.

#1 When did you first become involved in coaching and why? Did you get to know coaching as a client?

I first got to know coaching as a client when I was thinking about my own professional development. During the coaching it became very clear to me that I would like to be self-employed. A realization that surprised me deeply at that time. In the end, it took me a little while before I dared to take the step, but today I am happy about it every day.

For me personally, this story is further proof that we often think we know each other because we are self-reflective, and yet coaching can completely change your perspective and give you a perspective that you have never seen before.

#2 What was it that particularly fascinated you? What do you see as the added value of coaching for lawyers in particular?

The special fascination and importance of coaching for me - as with my personal history - is on the one hand that we often have tunnel vision and make plans or set goals that primarily result from our previous experiences. This can lead us to pursue plans that do not correspond 100% to us. A trained view from the outside can help here.

For me, coaching is the possibility to raise the potential of my clients that is already there, but my clients often do not see it or for various reasons can no longer see it. My experience has shown me that we often use only a fraction of our abilities and talents profitably for ourselves and our team and that when we are (again) in line with our values, talents and abilities, incredible things can happen. These success stories are for me the most beautiful part of my coaching work.

For lawyers I see two advantages:

Firstly as a coachee, because lawyers usually work in a demanding environment with many challenges. Coaching can help them to act from the inside out instead of reacting primarily to external demands. My Leadership Coaching Program is aimed in particular at helping you to act with calmness, strength and self-confidence by recognizing your own abilities and talents, but also sabotaging behavior patterns. This is expected of leaders and is becoming increasingly important, especially in the current climate. And last but not least, coaching my own person always has a positive influence on my team and the people I work with.

On the other hand, I also see an invaluable advantage for my work as a lawyer in having additional coaching training. Our work will change and in the future pure legal expertise will no longer be enough to stand out from the mass of lawyers. Real consultants will be in demand and in order to be able to identify and serve the needs of clients, coaching training is extremely valuable. You can find a lot of legal expertise, but what clients expect and what binds them is the personal touch. If a lawyer manages to be a partner at eye level with competence and expertise, a partner who offers more than pure knowledge, especially in difficult situations, then in my opinion all doors are open for him to be highly appreciated by clients and thus to be very successful.

#3 How do you use coaching today in your professional and/or private situation? In your experience, how and to what extent is coaching used by lawyers today?

I use my coaching expertise in many ways. On the one hand, of course, in my work as a coach with my clients and within the framework of my Leadership Coaching Program. In addition, I notice again and again that I can use my coaching skills profitably in acquisition, at networking events and also in challenging negotiation situations.

Especially when it comes to reconciling different interests, coaching is invaluable and I believe, as I said, that this is the added value of a good lawyer and not just the correct advice. Unfortunately this aspect is completely neglected in our training.

#4 Your very personal tip for success:

Good question, for me personally three things are decisive:

Firstly, clarity about your own goals, because without a concrete goal there can be no success, no matter how hard you try. In this context, I like the image of the ladder that you climb, only to discover at the end that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall. This is dramatic and does not have to be.

Secondly, I believe that one's own self-concept is extremely important. Any training, talent and expertise is worthless if I am not able to use these things to my advantage. In my opinion, we often overestimate external qualifications and underestimate how important our self-concept is, i.e. what we think we are capable of. In my experience, coaching can also make a significant difference here.

Thirdly, I am convinced that the way we start the day is crucial. Instead of reading messages and mails first thing in the morning, it has been proven to have a positive influence on our success if we start the day with a moment of silence and a clear intention. For me personally, this was an absolute game-changer, especially in those times when I thought I already had too little time anyway.

Feel free to contact me via Linkedin, I am looking forward to your message.

Thank you very much.

Read the entire series of interviews including the first round here. 

Get to know another ten legal coaches from the international environment. 

Click here for the CLP Academy's legal coaching training.



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