Why Every CEO Should Have at Least One Trusted Advisor

But there is also a risk that this optimism could inadvertently turn into tunnel vision. It’s like getting caught in a vortex of fast spinning energy. You may steamroll ahead, make quick decisions without considering factors such as determining risks, employing the right metrics, ascertaining whether the market wants what you’re selling, identifying top talent, correctly evaluating the necessary capital, and a host of other potential liabilities.

“Get outside of yourself, no matter how smart, savvy and prescient you think you are.”

So what is the right equation? It’s normal to feel that time is of the essence to get ahead of the competition. Like all sprinters who are racing to the finish line, however, you need to understand what it takes to keep you in peak performance. This means you must get outside of yourself no matter how smart, savvy and prescient you think you are. The best way to do this is to find an advisor, coach or mentor—someone you respect, someone who has a great track record of not just success, but enduring tough times. You may want to surround yourself with heroes, but you need heroes who have made mistakes. It’s the only way you will be guided with real wisdom.

When seeking an advisor you might want to consider these 4 attributes:

1. Business leaders all have different types of success. Some are great at maintaining the status quo, others increase market cap and achieve profitable growth. Be clear on your goals for your organization and ensure your advisor’s expertise is aligned with your objectives.

2. Don’t be dazzled by a high profile business leader. Does your potential advisor have expertise in your business’s core competencies? Do your homework. An advisor must have knowledge and direct experience with your industry. They must also understand the market, potential threats and possess a strategic mindset to help get you to where you want to go with your business.

3. Is your advisor well networked? Obtaining outside opinion, counsel and most importantly  a network that can help leverage your business is paramount.

4. Trust is critical. Can you share your anxieties, fears in an open manner and rather than feel judged have constructive dialogue that allows you to move forward with traction.

Having a trusted advisor eliminates the risks associated with working in isolation or at warp speed. To accept the advice of your advisor, however, you must have a sense of humility. You must accept that you could be wrong, you might require course correction or you might even have to start all over again. So being open to feedback from those who care and have domain expertise is invaluable. If you regard yourself as an eternal student along with being an innovator, then you will attract the right resources.

I strongly believe in surrounding myself with benevolent experts and sage advisors. They’ve got the right mojo and have worked hard to set me straight. They could do the same for you.

Cindy Wahler :Cindy Wahler, Ph.D., C.Psych. is a leadership consultant specializing in succession planning and talent management. She can be contacted at cwahler@cindywahler.com.