With over 30 years of experience in education and executive advising, I have gained many rewarding experiences working with a wide range of clients. Working with a diverse group of individuals, however, means that every situation is unique, which can lead to certain obstacles and challenges the executive advisor must overcome.
Some of the major challenges an executive advisor may face while working with a client include:
- Having a client who sees advising simply as a “nice to have” luxury rather than a necessity
- Having a client who is not willing to confront their blind spots; or having a client who has identified their blind spots, but is not willing to engage in changes that will lead to successful growth
- Working with a client who is not open to feedback on their performance or how they “show up”
- Getting clients to make the necessary investment in themselves or in their teams (even with ROI data to support an investment)
To sum up these challenges, it can be difficult to work with a client who is not fully committed to making the necessary changes to improve themselves, their employee and team relationships, as well as their entire business. The first step to making a positive permanent change is to recognize the need for change and to prepare oneself to do whatever it takes to make that change a reality.
Once a client is committed to creating positive change, there are still a number of challenges they must work through with their executive advisor to excel in their position and bring their business to a higher level of success. Today’s business world is an uncertain, complex, and ever changing environment which has a large impact on the executive advising strategy. Some of the most challenging and significant advising strategies include:
- Helping a client understand that every person is unique; having the ability to tolerate complexity and ambiguity is one of the most important aspects that make up a strong leader.
- A leader has to be assessed in relation to the level of complexity their job or company is demanding of them. An executive advisor must look at how a leader copes and reacts to things like complexity, different perspectives, and abstractions and determine what the demands of the position are calling for.
- Dealing with uncertainty calls for courage and openness; an advisor looks to help a client recognize the value of points of view that are different from their own. The advisor must help the client understand the value of being truly curious as to how others see a certain situation and what they propose to do about it.
However, once all is said and done, the final results of a successful advising experience far outweigh the challenges and difficulties faced along the way. Seeing an individual gain the courage to confront themselves and the strength to push forward through setbacks is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had as a professional. Executive advising is all about making real change happen; helping business leaders and teams discover different ways of communicating, making difficult decisions, and dealing with conflict.