Have you considered that trusted advisers might be key to your successful career? You probably have. In fact, a survey published in Harvard Business Review in 2013, reported that nearly all CEOs say they saw value in having an adviser. But, did you do it? Probably not. Nearly 2/3 of the CEOs reported they had not either. Do you know that every top athlete has a coach? Would you enjoy being a top CEO? Instead of lecturing you, I am going to share my direct experiences– one with, and one without– and point you to a recent article on the topic.
This piece, Building Effective Advisory Boards, by Jesse Torres got me thinking about my experiences working with advisers and the impact they had (or didn’t have) on the firms at which I worked. The advisers I encountered profoundly shaped my life. My greatest pleasure is helping others to achieve, whether it be my staff, or my supervisor. Thus, I transitioned myself from an owner in an engineering consulting business to be an owner of a business consulting company.
A negative experience of mine was working at an engineering firm that “self-managed,” meaning the CEO had no external advisers and the Board of Directors were all employees. When a recession hit and revenue dropped, the owners were slow to respond. The firm did not see it coming and when it did, the firm didn’t take swift action to boost sales. Revenue dropped yet expenses remained high. Soon, the company reached their credit limit and were pressured by the bank to sharply curtail expenses. Over the next year, all senior associates lost confidence in the owners and left the firm. I was the last to go. A decade later the company had survived but erratic performance endured and stock valued remained flat.
The owners of my next firm recognized that they didn’t know everything and what they did not know could and would hurt them. The CEO always had one or more formal advisers and all of the senior managers had access to those advisers. As the firm grew I, as an elected shareholder, worked with the CEO to modify the Board of Directors to include several external members, each who had been with a larger organization during a high growth phase. A decade later, that firm remained strong, their numbers tripled as did their stock value. Many of the shareholders were millionaires at that point.
Don’t have externals advisers? Or, have some but they are as informal as an unpaid “lunch-talk?” You want one or more advisers who are fully engaged and who completely understands you and your firm. That requires a formal arrangement. I encourage all firm leaders to secure external advisers that are made part of your ongoing management process. I am confident that you will one day look back on that experience, as I do, and feel proud of how much more you learned and accomplished. Shoot me an email to start an exploratory discussion. firstname.lastname@example.org