On our road to success we often take on the next role or the next project that we know we will have to grow into. As we confront difficult circumstances and face what initially looks like insurmountable problems, we may first look to our own experience and knowledge. However, when we see the limits of our own thinking, we will then start to look around us. But for who and for what? A trusted advisor?

In speaking to senior executives about the trusted advisors they had throughout their careers, the following elements were most frequently mentioned:

  • Trust – They looked for people with authenticity, someone one who demonstrated belief and practice in their own values.
  • Insight – The advice was useful, even if not always used, and it helped give them new perspectives on the issues or situations they were dealing with. If what their advisor said didn’t add anything to what they were dealing with, they soon stopped seeking their advice.
  • Mutually beneficial – Both the advisor and advisee were enriched by the exchange, learning and discovering together. It is the different perspective that is valued, not necessarily the knowledge of the advisor.
  • Connection – In exceptional cases there is a real chemistry, in any case there is a freedom to speak freely without fear of looking stupid. They wanted their advisor to be frank, with the intention of moving things forward. There is no interest in having an advisor who is reluctant to speak their mind.

Trusted advisors are chosen by those they advise. To go beyond a purely transactional relationship with your clients, it will take providing real insight through applying your expertise to generate new ideas that are relevant and actionable. You will need to be aware of and connected to what your client wants to create, beyond what you might have sold them.  Your best advice will be delivered when you are inspired by what they are out to accomplish, and you have an authentic desire to contribute to their success.

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