I was speaking in Singapore last week to a group of marketers from across Asia/Pacific on what it means to be a “Trusted Advisor”. These are turbulent times in the world of marketing. By nature marketing tends to be about longer term strategic direction yet many companies are sacrificing that agenda in the current climate in favour of short term results. Often marketing results take more time to produce and more effort to measure than areas like sales. And on top of all that, Web 2.0 and the likes of Facebook and Twitter are revolutionising traditional marketing and marketplaces.
Simply put, I believe there has never been a more important time for them to be Trusted Advisors. There are six distinctive traits that set Trusted Advisors apart from Typical Consultants. Regardless of your industry, if your role requires giving advice or expertise to others then your goal should be to transcend the Typical Consultant and become the Trusted Advisor. So what are the differences? Let’s talk about three.
Culture Creator vs Adaptable
I heard a respected CEO last week say “Leadership creates culture, and culture creates performance”. I wrote an article recently called “Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast” because leaders must recognise that no amount of strategy will save you if your team culture does not support your goals. The Trusted Advisor sees it as part of their charter to help cultivate a culture that is conducive to lasting success. By contrast the Typical Consultant is simply adaptable – their goal is to fit in. Where one is a thermostat, the other is just a thermometer. One changes the temperature of the room, the other merely measures it.
Lifelong Learner vs “Qualified”
Something I’ve observed about Trusted Advisors is that they treat their education as a journey rather than an event. The Typical Consultant is merely “qualified”. They have degrees, experience, achievements and references. All past tense. But how much of what they learned is no longer true? To what extent does their experience blind them to new possibilities? Are they “qualified” for the future or only for the past? The Trusted Advisor recognises that there is always more to learn especially in an age of constant change. They learn to love learning. The humility to acknowledge their own need to grow is a key reason why others trust their advice.
Innovator vs Mechanic
Innovation is a word at risk of losing all meaning through overuse. My personal definition is: Innovation = Creativity Harnessed To Purpose. The Trusted Advisor is focused on future purpose and possibilities. Instead the Typical Consultant is more like a mechanic – fixing problems and keeping things running. There’s nothing wrong with being a mechanic, but to become a Trusted Advisor we must show that we can move from what is to what could be through innovation. Recently someone said to me that “marketers need to keep up with the developments in social media”. I don’t agree. Keeping up is not enough if you want to be a Trusted Advisor. The Trusted Advisor needs to lead the way.
So, which one are you being for the clients you serve? The fact is that Typical Consultants do good work and tend to get good results. Being a qualified, adaptable, skilled mechanic is a pretty reasonable start. But it’s not enough.
I’d love to hear your comments and feedback
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