Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Creating Exceptional Workplaces and Extraordinary Results
Roberta Matuson's Blog

Why Every Executive Can Benefit from a Trusted Advisor

I was speaking to a prospect the other day who confided in me that she’s been considering several key strategical initiatives for months now, yet was unable to make a decision. She went on to say she wasn’t sure she had the right people on her team that could execute her vision.

She couldn’t exactly speak with executives on her team about this, since the people she had doubts about were their co-workers, nor could she discuss this with her board, for fear they’d have concerns about her ability to lead. So she did what many executives do. She continued to ruminate until the Chairman of the Board called her in to discuss his concerns. This scenario is more common than you think.We tend to look at successful executives with awe and rarely question how they got to where they are. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Most have had help.

In last week’s WSJ, Land O’Lakes, Inc. CEO Beth Ford stated she was at ease making financial and strategic decisions because she knows where to “source information.” But when it comes to “people moments,” she turns to others for counsel. Ford is fortunate in that she has access to some of the world’s top executives due to her high profile role.

Here’s how to avail yourself of similar resources, even if you’re not leading a Fortune 500 company, just yet.

Join a board. Non-profits are always looking for board members to help take their organizations to the next level. Find a non-profit, whose mission you believe in and see if they are actively looking for a new board member. By doing so, you’ll be helping your community out, while at the same time, gaining access to leaders whom you may not usually have an opportunity to meet. As you get to know your fellow board members, you’ll find one or two people whose advice you may choose to seek.

Form your own advisory team. Think about people in your network whom you admire. Reach out to these people and ask them for permission to reach out to them for advice when a situation arises. Offer to do the same for them. Take this one step further by meeting quarterly for lunch or drinks.

Hire your own trusted advisor. An advisor is someone who is a subject matter expert in an area that’s of importance to you. This person provides advice based on your particular situation.

For example, I’m a trusted advisor to a number of CEOs who reach out to me to discuss issues that are top of mind regarding talent. They may have questions around the best way to structure the organization, or they might need advice as to how to best exit an executive from the organization.

Sometimes they’ll reach out to me because they need a sounding board. Other times, it may be merely to vent.

What matters most for them is knowing they have someone who will give them unfiltered feedback. I also help my clients with accountability.

Before seeking an advisor, ask the following questions:

  • What am I looking to achieve?
  • How can this person help me grow my business or advance my career?
  • Am I in need of someone who can help me shift my behaviors or do I need expert advice in a particular area?
  • Does the person whom I’m speaking with have experience helping people like me?
  • What results has this person helped their clients achieve?
  • Am I ready to commit to working with an advisor?

I always practice what I preach and have recently re-engaged with my trusted advisor, Alan Weiss. He tells me what I need to hear and not necessarily what I want to hear. He pushes me to think bigger and warns me when I’m about to step off a cliff. My only regret is not hiring him sooner.

Avoid my mistake. Don’t wait. Find a trusted advisor who can help you soar. Do this today.

© 2019, Matuson Consulting.

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