Almost all the consultants and coaches that I mentor want to become an executive advisor. For some this means that they want to work with more senior leaders in larger companies. For others this means that they want all of their revenue to come from their ability to give expert advice to executives. For others they simply want to increase the value of their contracts and reduce labor intensity by offering more executive sounding board type services.
While these goals make sense - they are missing the heart of what it really means to be an executive advisor and what it takes to succeed in this sacred and noble role.
An executive advisor at its core is someone who speaks truth to power so that those in charge make decisions that benefit the realm.
The relationship between the Sovereign and his/her Advisors is an ancient one - one that is documented in both the Bible and in ancient myths. It's the story of Samuel and David, Merlin and King Arthur and Rafiki and Simba.
It's about how the Prophet and Mentor exposes errors in the thinking of the Sovereign and invites them to their potential - because of the impact on the health and well-being of all.
Executive leadership is all about the management of power and because of this foundational reality - the advisors that succeed has to be able to stand in their own. They cannot invite a leader into something that they have no mastery of in their own life.
So if you want to become an executive advisor - you have to first have a vision for the significance of this role. It's not about being paid to give some best practices you have witnessed or created in another company. It's about how you help the leader you are advising become more aware of how they are making decisions and transforming those filters to be more inclusive of the impacts to more than the bottom line. The only way that workplaces and societies will improve is when the leaders at the top consider the whole system when making decisions and does what is in EVERYBODY'S best interest. An executive leader has to have the highest and broadest perspective in the room and this is where an executive advisor proves their value. They help this leader see the whole and consider the long-term implications of what they decide.
The second thing you need is to cultivate your own personal power and this begins with your approach to your business development. There is little chance that you'll be perceived as a trusted advisor if you come into the organization as a subcontractor. If you position yourself in this way - you have set yourself to be seen as an "extra pair of hands." If your entire marketing strategy is simply going by referrals, finding other consultants or coaches who are more successful and taking their overflow work or signing up for firms that will do the marketing for you - you'll have a hard time convincing a senior leader that you are their equal and peer.
This is why settling for a website that is little more than an online brochure is not a winning strategy. Not only do you make it hard for executive leaders to find you, you don't show up in their eyes as someone who can hold their own with them. But the bigger reason is that you rob yourself of the experience of wrestling with your true expertise and value and manifesting it to the world.
The website creation process isn't some "check the box" exercise. It's actually an investment in building your most significant empowerment tool. Building your credible website empowers your confidence in your competence. Launching your credible website empowers your to courage to ask people to work with you and pay you what you're worth.
The third thing you need to do is stop selling your methodology when someone expresses interest in working with you. You don't sell coaching services, team building, training, project management, websites or any of the tactics you may offer in that initial conversation with a potential client. You uncover their real business challenges and then position yourself as a partner in solving them. This is the only way that you can true advisory engagements. You have to position yourself as a partner to be seen as a partner.
Bottom line - being an executive advisor is all about personal power that begins with first cultivating your own. It's from this place of having your center of self being strong and grounded can you invite your executive clients into theirs. You can't help your clients with something you haven't experienced. This is why if you have shied away from marketing or your website is not a whole lot more than an online brochure you're struggling with landing the work that matches what you want to bring to the table and earn.
Start now to change this. Take on your money fears and your mental blocks around marketing that it's somehow incongruent with your values around service and making a difference. Doing your marketing right, in a way that establishes you as an executive advisor, is the ONLY way that you will become an executive advisor. Playing small isn't a reflection of true humility. It's actually fear dressed up as integrity. True humility is having sober judgment about your gifts, talents and calling. So be humble and own what God, the universe or however you see the being that is larger than you has given you.
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