You’re a part of the executive team; your colleagues ask you for advice. That is… most of the time. It’s not that you’re left out; it’s just that the CEO and your other team members don’t quite view you as an essential trusted advisor.
Yes, You Can Transform Yourself into the Trusted Advisor
At this point in your career, substantive knowledge and the right experience are not enough. You think strategically, see all the issues, and yet, when it comes to critical strategic decisions, your advice doesn’t seem to be given the weight it deserves.
And then there are the times that conversations don’t always go the way you’d like them to. Yuck.
So, what is the solution? It’s to learn C-suite techniques for:
- Increasing buy-in as you manage change;
- Changing any misperceptions of you from being the “no” person to being the “know” person; and
- Becoming a trusted advisor to the C-suite by transforming your knowledge into sought-after advice.
Here’s How: Learn to Ask Questions like a Coach!
You need to learn how to coach, and then coach prolifically. That is, you need to ask your colleagues targeted, open-ended questions designed to elicit their best thinking. The irony is that the more you coach, the more likely your colleague is to recognize you as his or her trusted advisor.
Let’s talk about buy-in. Imagine a colleague who resists a change or your direction; you reiterate the benefits yet fail to achieve alignment. By asking your colleague open-ended questions focused on how to implement the change, your colleague engages in the problem-solving process and buys into its implementation.
So, what exactly is coaching? The coaching model below outlines a five-step problem solving process; what makes it coaching is using open-ended questions at each step. The distinction between using Coaching Skills and having a full-blown Coaching Conversation is that the former involves the use of one or more open-ended questions. The latter follows the model.
Step 1: Establish the Focus of the conversation, which means asking open-ended questions to clarify the topic, goal, and takeaway for the conversation. This step is often the most important, because a problem well-defined is half solved.
Step 2: Brainstorm Options to the challenge by asking your colleague open-ended questions to identify strategies. It’s critical for your colleague to do his or her own thinking here. Wait to share suggestions.
Step 3: Create the Action Plan, which is especially important for complex problems and for colleagues who get stuck easily or who garner comfort from working out detailed steps.
Step 4: Remove Obstacles and identify resources, a step which is often overlooked but is necessary to successfully execute the plan created in Step 3. Don’t forget it!
Step 5: Review and Commit, which is often the most forgotten step, and, especially if you are using the coaching model to run a meeting, is critical to ensuring that all team members are on the same page with respect to who does what by when.
Finally, you ask, “what’s the link to executive presence?”
Colleagues view those who ask coaching questions—who don’t just jump in with the answer—as thoughtful, reflective, and focused on the bigger picture. This is executive presence, and this is what ensures you have a seat at the table. You are indispensable because you ask the right questions: the questions that ensure that nothing is overlooked and that decisions are well-considered. You’ll still offer your advice, but that’s not all you contribute.
If you found this helpful, share with colleagues and friends. We’d love to hear your secrets to being indispensable!