7 Traits that Make You Instantly Credible with Senior Leaders

You don’t need masters’ degree or unique certifications to break into corporate consulting or coaching. You also don’t need to become some marketing guru to land work with the C-Suite. Instead, if you want to start finding and landing executive advisory assignments with high-level leaders, you need to cultivate the following attributes that they find the most valuable.

  1. Business Acumen
  • Focuses applying expertise towards achievement of business outcomes (vs. implementing a methodology.)
  • Knows how the various functions of a business work and relate to each other.
  • Understands business drivers, challenges, competition, goals and strategies.
  • Speaks the language of business – financials, data and analytics.
  1. Political Savvy
  • Can recommend solutions that consider the realities of the formal and informal power networks.
  • Understands how the culture and power networks operate within the client system.
  • Able to build relationships for mutual benefit and win support for projects.
  • Can establish relationships and networks across a broad range of people and groups and is effective at working with powerful people.
  1. Framing & Empathy
  • Able to sort and organize complexity.
  • Connects the dots between disparate data and make sense of situations that seem on the surface difficult to understand.
  • Uses active, reflective listening.
  • Conceptualizes and develop theoretical and practical frameworks that describe complex ideas in understandable, usable ways.
  1. Think Partnership/Sounding Board
  • Provides an objective point of view.
  • Asks the right questions to help executives better understand wants…and needs.
  • Maintains confidentiality.
  • Helps clients anticipate the Customer/Client, Employee, and Financial/Operational impact of business decisions.
  • Discerns behavioral obstacles to performance and provide effective counsel so that corrective action is taken.
  1. Organization Behavior/Development
  • Recognizes and understands organizations as dynamic, political, economic, and social systems which have multiple goals.
  • Uses this larger perspective as a framework for understanding and influencing events and change.
  • Understands and appropriately apply the theories, techniques, and methods used in organization development.
  1. Consulting Skills/Process Leadership
  • Understands and appropriately applies the Consulting Engagement Cycle empower leaders to solve complex organizational problems.
  • Applies expert strategic facilitation skills to influence groups so that tasks, process, relationships, and individual needs are addressed.
  • Effectively present information and concepts so that an intended purpose is achieved.
  • Skillfully use a variety of presentation media and formats.
  • Gathers information individuals and groups through the use of interviews, surveys, and other probing methods and draw conclusions from data that inform action.
  1. Proactive Advocacy
  • Advocates a point of view regarding what needs to be done, who needs to be involved, and how it should be accomplished.
  • Sees role as pushing clients towards higher performance, not just supporting or serving them.
  • Helps clients embrace opportunity and pursue lofty goals, not just reduce risk or achieve today’s numbers.

For Reflection

  1. Which of the above traits do you possess? Which ones are missing?
  2. Which of the above traits are is your "power alley" - meaning it's a seriously strong trait of yours that you consistently leverage to create amazing results. HINT: This trait might be key to understanding your unique and marketable expertise.
  3. What can you do to master all 7 traits?

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