Why Not A Trusted Advisor?
This is a guest blog post from my friend Dan Peoples SVP and Principal, Leadership Capital Group. Thanks Dan!
Are you wondering whether or not you are a trusted advisor to your client? If so, STOP pondering; the answer is “no”. When you are viewed as a trusted advisor, it’s obvious and you don’t have to wonder.
I find it odd that in my 16 years in executive search (both within a firm as well as inside a corporation), I can count on one hand the number of clients that viewed me as a trusted advisor.
I’m not questioning whether or not my clients recognize benefits when they retain me and their search runs smoothly and quickly. We’ve filled their position, they are happy clients, and they express that appreciation. However, most clients don’t share the depth of information vital for a true understanding of a leaders’ challenges, the team challenges, and the overall organizational challenges. Without that bigger picture, it’s impossible for a search consultant to apply the full scope of their knowledge and consultative capabilities—to be a full partner in achieving an objective broader than that of simply closing a search.
I have often asked myself: “Why doesn’t every client trust me and welcome the full breadth of the skills and insight I have to offer? Why don’t they get it?” I’m not sure I have a solid answer yet. I have begun to realize though, that most often it’s not about me. I’m sure many other search consultants, both inside and third party, have arrived at the same conclusion.
If it’s not about us, what is it? Have too many clients been burned in the past and are now walled off; shutting out all other recruiters in fear of being burned again? Is it this classic relationship story that causes tenuous client/recruiter relationships? There are many recruiters who give the best of us a bad reputation. I have heard thousands of horror stories about recruiters that blow my mind; and remember, I’ve been on the inside--a buyer of executive search as well as a provider. I really get it; but eventually clients move on and find better search consultants. Why can’t they then be open to the full scope of services we offer?
If it’s not the jilted lover story, perhaps having to use a recruiter elicits the perception of losing control or a sense of defeat? With some clients, we have executed multiples of successful searches; have we not yet proven our worth, generated trust and earned a partnership? Have they not yet recognized that we are working towards the same mission? Why do clients continue to keep us at arm’s length, why doesn’t a comfortable relationship develop where there is the same mutual respect that we all enjoy with a good friend or colleague?
Is it too much to ask that my clients trust me as they would a friend? They most likely trust doctors with their lives and give full disclosure to attorneys. They award these professionals advisor status, and on a much more personal basis. Why not share the breadth and scope of the challenges within their organization so that we search consultants can offer the range of our knowledge, the expanse of our market intelligence, therefore, the full benefit of our abilities?
This is a big conversation and your thoughts on the topic are welcomed.