When put simply, there are two ways to go about handling any given situation. You can choose to take action and have a say in the outcome or, you can choose to sit back and wait for the results to unfold themselves. In this way, you can either choose to be part of the cause (at cause) or part of the effect (at effect).
In order to make a prominent stand in the business world, one must always look to be at cause. Managers and business leaders must ask questions like, “What are we going to make happen today? What do we want to create? And how are we going to do it?” They must focus on what they are going to make happen rather than what may happen to them. This demonstrates great character and leadership that other employees will look up to and follow.
Being at cause is not only important for upper level managers and executives, it is also crucial for those in the early stages of establishing a career going on interviews. Consider a situation where two people are interviewing for a job. Both individuals have the necessary credentials and are well qualified for the role. One individual takes on the interview with the point of view that the result will reflect entirely on their own performance. Whether or not they get the job depends on how they choose to present and project themselves. This individual takes full responsibility for the interview’s outcome, feeling very confident and in control.
The second individual, however, approaches the interview much differently. In their mindset, they know they will do the best they can, but the decision is ultimately based on the interviewer’s thoughts and opinions of them as well as how well the other candidates performed. This individual does not believe they have control over their own interview, making them feel less confident and less likely to succeed.
In my experience as an executive advisor, leaders at cause have a much greater chance of building a long and successful career in a field of his or her choice. Individuals that are able to take control of any given situation make a great fit for leadership positions such as managers, senior executives, and even CEOs.
Leland Sandler speaking at an HR conference in Zurich
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.