Trusted Advisor; Who’s yours?

There is a good chance, that whilst you are reading this, you are simultaneously grappling with a problem or challenge at work; in extreme cases, more full-on wrestling match than a playground scuffle.

Maybe you’ve got a team that are not executing activities in the way you wish they would.

Or perhaps you have a strategy that you need people to get behind but it’s not packing the punch you would like it to.

It may be something completely different, but whatever it is, wouldn’t it be great to have someone in your corner whilst you’re doing the wrestling. Someone to act as a sounding board. Another set of ears. Someone who you can bounce ideas around with.

What about identifying a trusted advisor?


This might be a work colleague you get on particularly well with or someone you’ve worked with in the past that you have built up a trusting relationship with, who you know you can speak openly to.

It might be an external partner, with the emphasis on the external, ensuring they do not know or are affected by the cultural morés of the organization.

Someone you have worked with a lot and you know will always go out of their way to help you come up with ideas or solutions.

We have written about trust before; specifically the trust equation. It’s a fabulous model, and in our experience describes trust accurately. The reason for writing about it again now is a conversation we had last week with a client.

The Trust Equation

Being a Trusted Advisor


We are involved in a long running programme, helping this particular organisation land a corporate strategy; ensuring its various component parts come to life for people, in a way that means they feel compelled to change how they work.

There are many different pieces of this puzzle, but the ultimate objective is a significant shift in ways of working.

Moving from a traditional decision-making process to something much more agile and fluid. Whilst working on this programme we have very much become ‘the trusted advisor’. We are the people that are on every call, the people providing research and ideas for analogies to use, ways to craft the narrative and activities to help people ‘feel’ what agile is.

We have identified and filled gaps. We have co-ordinated with a range of other providers to ensure the whole thing comes together seamlessly. We have pushed back when we think there is a risk of falling back into ‘corporate’ rather than sticking to the preferred human-first design principles. It might not be tangible. It might be a ‘feeling’

Trying to make all of this work tangible for everyone is very difficult. We have no set methodology at the beginning; no templates or off the shelf set-pieces and no flashy report at the end either. We don’t ‘know’ how to do this, but we are willing to commit everything we do know to finding the right path. What there is however, is a feeling.

  • A feeling from the client that they are delivering a program significantly different and more challenging than they would have done without us.
  • A feeling that their thinking has been moved forward because of our involvement and ideas.
  • A feeling of confidence in what they are delivering as they know it has been robustly tested with a group of people that they trust.

It’s hard to quantify and put a price on that feeling. However this quote from the client goes some way to expressing the difference having a trusted advisor has…

“Before we start the call, I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you. I don’t think everyone realises how hard you work at creativity, because you make it seem so easy. I just wanted you to know how much I trust your judgement and it makes such a difference”

Of course, trust goes both ways and although we won’t name our lovely client here, I’m sure she will recognize herself in the story. It was a wonderful feeling to be thanked in that way and a good reminder to us to do the same with our trusted partners. We have faith that she will listen to our ideas, take them seriously and implement those that really land the messages.

She isn’t afraid either to give us feedback, like a trusted advisor needs sometimes, and let us know when we’ve gone down a creative rabbit hole, pushed an idea too hard or simply come up with one that doesn’t fly!

Asking for help


Ultimately, finding a trusted advisor can be a real boon to your personal and professional life, but it will only work, if you are prepared to give time to build that relationship. The first step is always asking for help. If you are in the wrestling ring today, make sure someone is in the corner with you and if there isn’t, then ask for help now.

If you don’t know who your trusted advisor might be, well drop us a line – it might be us and if it isn’t, we might know someone else who could be 😊