An executive advisor plays a key role in establishing powerful and enduring change in businesses and organizations through a unique set of strategies and techniques. An executive advisor creates the conditions for individuals and teams to overcome their own internal barriers to change, to take stock of and transcend their own blind spots, and to see errors and weaknesses as prime opportunities for personal growth. Once the strategy for execution is established, the advisor helps the client instill the process, through practices, tools, techniques, and structure, that leads them to permanently change themselves for the better.
A professional may seek the service of an executive advisor for a number of reasons. Listed below are some of the most common roles an executive advisor takes on throughout his career:
- Expand the ability of leaders and CEOs to deal with the increasing complexity of the world in which they operate in
- Help professionals deal more effectively with a number of possible constituents including board members, direct reports, customers/clients, as well as business development relationships
- Assist first time CEOs in need of a safe sounding board to help guide them and challenge them in areas where they do not yet have experience
- Provide direct, honest feedback to professionals and someone to hold them accountable as they deal with important and challenging issues
- Identify differences and issues between individual team members (work styles, communication, decision making, etc) and make concrete suggestions on how to better optimize execution and meeting their goals.
While it is important for the executive advisor to be experienced and knowledgeable to provide efficient advising service to the client, it is equally important for the client to be a good advising candidate. A good advising candidate is someone who is open to the possibility of personal change, no matter how successful he or she has been in the past. An executive advisor will work best with someone who is willing to stay the course even when they finally confront a key issue about themselves and/or their team.
A good advisor-client relationship is highly confidential and personal. It requires a great deal of trust on the part of both parties. Advising involvement can vary from meeting with a client every couple of weeks to attending key meetings as well as individual advising meetings each week.
The key to being a successful executive advisor is to be able to effectively identify the focal issue or opportunity that the client most wants to go after. The advisor then must spend a fitting amount of time with the client to provide the initial scaffolding and structure necessary to bring about permanent change.