Every leader at every level needs a few trusted advisors. Though I often serve this role for clients, I am not just talking about external consultants like me. I am referring to internal or professional colleagues outside your organization as well. One of the things that strikes me so often in my work is how isolated many executives feel. If they have done the work of building a strong, cohesive team, they have their “team one” and that is important because they are co-pilots in running their organization. However, there are times when we all need someone who is not on our team, does not report to us (directly or indirectly), is not our boss or board, who can serve as a confidant and guide.
What do I mean by “trusted advisor”? You may add to this, my list includes someone who:
Sometimes leaders think they have a trusted advisor and later realize that their advisor had their own agenda. We learn from this and become more discerning. The worst mistake I see leaders make is that they surround themselves with people who tell them what they want to hear. I get really nervous when I see this on the top team, and I often do. CEO’s in particular can get tired of being challenged, and hearing bad or difficult news. Managing a board, a boss (or several) and running a large organization is a substantial responsibility. If they surround themselves with people who tell them what they want to hear, it must feel like a relief. It can also be disastrous. They are already often disconnected from what is happening in key parts of their organization. They need trusted advisors more than anyone.
If you really just need some support and camaraderie, call a dear friend. But if you need help seeing around a corner, beyond your own blind spots, or need an objective and insightful perspective, find a trusted advisor. They help you see what you are too tired or too focused to see. They will challenge your thinking, mental models and expand your insight. You may ultimately disagree with them, and that is okay. Before you do, check to make sure you aren’t choosing the more comfortable, less controversial, short-term solution, when the more difficult one will create the outcome you need for your employees and business.
True trusted advisors are hard to find but worth the search. You will know them by the way they make you feel after talking with them: tired, challenged, supported in the truest sense and more aware, informed and clear on the path forward.
Welcome to Moira's blog. I write a (mostly) monthly post about the work of building better work places: people strategies, systems, teams and leaders.