Howard I. Flack
MBTI® Type: INFP. Expressive; Compassionate; Adaptable.
Favorite Book: Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
Why did you become a coach?
The most enjoyable and gratifying moments of my role as the Lateral Recruitment and Integration Partner at Hogan Lovells were the contributions I made while mentoring fellow partners. It started when I was on the firm’s Executive Committee, and it did not take long before I became known as a "people person" and as a “rabbi” for many of the firm’s partners - including those whom I helped to recruit - since the issues they faced were often complex and sensitive. Finding a way to navigate such issues required me to earn the trust of the affected partner (as well as the firm) and develop an understanding of the issues from multiple vantage points. To be effective in my role, it was important to be sensitive to different perspectives, exercise good judgment, use common sense and often rely on my sense of humor. In my coaching work at Volta, I continue to draw from my personal and professional experiences in order to help attorneys to navigate their environment and achieve their goals.
Is there a particular lens through which you approach your coaching?
As a coach, I rely not only on my professional and personal experiences, but also on the experiences of others whom I’ve had the privilege to have helped over many years. Translating career challenges into practical advice that partners or associates feel comfortable with (and trust) is an art, not a science. I am invested in every coaching assignment I take, and it is important to me that my coachees bring (or develop) the same commitment to the goals they set for themselves.
What do you see as the key benefits coaching provides?
Let’s face it, we all get in our own way sometimes. And, for many, that impacts us in our careers. Like many personal challenges, when we get close to making decisions, we begin to overthink the emotion and the issue. It then becomes difficult to step back and consider alternative approaches. Unlike personal decisions where we can often draw advice from family and friends whose judgments we trust, it’s not as easy to get independent, unbiased career advice. Often, lawyers, by their very nature, don’t feel comfortable addressing career issues directly with their firms. Having a knowledgeable coach with the experience and commitment to help you see through and past the challenge, develop alternative solutions and execute on them, can be a big help.
What makes you a successful coach?
For many years, I attributed much of my life experience, professionally and personally, to being in the right place at the right time. I wasn’t entirely correct. While some of our successes may be attributable to “dumb luck”, I’ve realized that we often make our own luck. It starts with the basics - listening, thinking about what you hear, working hard to develop a plan that works for you and learning how to execute so that you are in the right place at the right time. Life experience is the best coach… but there is always value to filling in the gaps with the experience of others. I bring my full life experience to every coaching engagement and help my coachees make their own luck.