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Essential Traits of a Trusted Advisor

Trusted Advisor

Enlightened businesses today hire leadership consultants and executive coaches to help with their leadership development programs. However, increasingly a number of my clients now prefer me to help them in the role of trusted advisor rather than expert consultant.

This special partnership based on mutual respect and collaboration produces sustained results. The role of trusted advisor is collaborative, transparent and fiercely client-centered.

David Maister, Charles Green and Robert Galford authors of The Trusted Advisor (2000) listed traits that trusted advisors have in common. Trusted advisors:

    * Seem to understand us, effortlessly, and like us
    * Are consistent (we can depend on them)
    * Always help us see things from fresh perspectives
    * Don't try to force things on us
    * Help us think things through (it's our decision)
    * Don't substitute their judgment for ours
    * Don't panic or get overemotional (they stay calm)
    * Help us think and separate our logic from our emotion
    * Criticize and correct us gently, lovingly
    * Don't pull their punches (we can rely on them to tell us the truth)
    * Are in it for the long haul (the relationship is more important than the current issue)
    * Give us reasoning (to help us think), not just their conclusions
    *  Give us options, increase our understanding of those options, give us their recommendation, and let us choose
    * Challenge our assumptions (help us uncover the false assumptions we've been working under)
    * Make us feel comfortable and casual personally (but they take the issues seriously)
    * Act like a real person, not someone in a role
    * Are reliably on our side and always seem to have our interests at heart
    * Remember everything we ever said (without notes)
    * Are always honorable (they don't gossip about others, and we trust their values)
    * Help us put our issues in context, often through the use of metaphors, stories, and anecdotes (few problems  are completely unique)
    * Have a sense of humor to diffuse (our) tension in tough situations
    * Are smart (sometimes in ways we're not)

Maister, Green and Galford suggest we ask ourselves "Which of these traits do my clients think I possess?"  (Not what you think you possess, but what they think you possess!)" These authors believe the ability to earn trust is a learnable skill, and promise The Trusted Advisor (2000) will provide clear direction and a path based on integrity.

Over a twenty-five year coaching and consulting career, I have found the trusted advisor role based on mutual respect and trust to be incredibly energizing. My clients don’t treat me as a vendor or dispassionate expert, but as someone who cares about their success at the deepest level of engagement.

The leaders I work with truly are often lonely at the top. Their ability to be open and transparent with me sharing their hopes and fears often leads to more comfort creating an organizational culture based on similar values.

I love that we can often discuss trends in other industries, politics, religion, art, music and other topics that inform the leaders’ personal and professional growth.  Leaders appreciate working with a thought partner to develop good judgment, and gain clarity in their decision-making. Establishing unwavering trust is critical to this somewhat sacred relationship.

Are you working in a professional services firm or other organization where executive coaches provide leadership development for senior leaders? Does your organization provide executive coaching to help leaders develop a more sustainable business? Trusted Advisors help enlightened leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to fully engage employees.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “How can I benefit from working with a trusted advisor?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching for collaborative leaders who are curious about creating sustainable businesses.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help you create a happy and prosperous business where everyone is fully engaged. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist, executive coach and trusted advisor to senior leadership teams. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies and law firms assess, select, coach, and retain emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

For more information, please go to, write to, or call 415-546-1252.

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