My guess is that you picked this book up because you are in finance, the law department, public relations, human resources, strategic planning, security, marketing, IT, or compliance, and you deserve to be heard much earlier, more often, at higher levels. You hold in your hands the disciplines necessary to achieve your objective.
About the Author xxvii
Introduction: Leaders and Their Advisors xxix
If you are going to advise bosses and leaders, you need to change your perspective. Having a better sense of the disciplined approach required and how these seven disciplines mold you into a strategic advisor will be essential to your success.
Part One: The Realities of Advising Top Executives
1 How Leaders Think and Operate: The Pressures, What Matters, the Obstacles, and the Solutions 3
First, know whom you are advising, their environment, and what they care about. Here, I analyze the world in which leaders currently live, what is different today in what they do and what is expected of them, and how this applies to the trusted strategic advisor. This includes how leaders make decisions and spend their time, five reasons leaders fail, and five behaviors for leadership success.
2 What Leaders Expect 21
Meeting the expectations of those you advise is essential, but knowing what they expect can be mysterious. This chapter identifies seven key expectations executives have for advisors, five aspects of effective advice, questions to ask before approaching the boss, and the talents and abilities expected of advisors.
3 Achieving Maximum Impact 33
There is a lot of competition and many voices at these altitudes. If you want to punch through, you must constantly strive to have maximum impact. Know the nitty-gritty of what trusted strategic advisors do. This is the chapter that takes you there. You will walk through the self-energizing steps to gain the confidence of senior managers, and learn about the importance of speaking management’s language, annoying staff habits to avoid, and, most important, the five areas where leaders and bosses need feedback every day.
Part Two: The Seven Disciplines
4 Be Trustworthy 49
Trust is the first discipline and the foundation for a relationship between advisor and leader or boss. This chapter offers five components of trust, six behaviors to establish trust, and ten ways to lose trust.
5 Become a Verbal Visionary 65
A leader’s greatest skill is verbal skill, and a leader’s advisor must also have powerful verbal skills. Explore the six verbal tools advisors have to provide advice, self-assess your verbal skill, find out what it means to be a visionary, and discover the seven behaviors and actions of verbal visionaries.
6 Develop a Management Perspective 87
Managers and leaders trust those who show interest in and are knowledgeable about operations and the work of leaders. To be a management advisor, you need to be able to talk more about your boss’s goals and objectives than about whatever your staff function happens to be. You need to be able to see the business or organization operationally and through the leader’s eyes.
7 Think Strategically 105
Leadership is always about strategy. This chapter discusses the concepts and ideas behind being strategic, including the seven virtues of a strategist, the four phases of strategic thinking, and five fatal strategic flaws. Find out how much of a strategist you are.
8 Be a Window to Tomorrow: Understand the Power of Patterns 129
The advisor who can forecast tomorrow with almost any level of accuracy will be invited back time and time again. One of the great insights into being a powerful forecaster is understanding how to learn from the patterns of past experiences. This chapter offers the five lessons of scenario pattern awareness and examples of the insights patterns can reveal.
9 Advise Constructively 149
Giving advice is an art that starts where the boss is and where he or she has to go. This chapter will teach you how to structure your advice to ensure that you are clearly understood and that the boss can act on what you are advising. It also offers pitfalls to giving advice, some strategies and techniques to help you structure advice, and three strategic tools to use.
10 Show the Boss How to Use Your Advice 165
One of the skills that management schools fail to teach is how to take advice from those whose advice one seeks. To see your ideas come alive, teach the boss how to take and to use your advice. You may be surprised at how receptive your boss will be. This chapter offers four elements of constructive advice, seven approaches to providing effective advice, and a way to assess your daily effectiveness.
Conclusion: You Are the Table 181
The fundamental premise of this book is that you are the table whenever you are in the presence of those you are advising, even if you are the only one in the room with them. Forget searching for this mythical place, located somewhere in the vicinity of the boss’s office. Understand the leaders’ environment and thinking. Develop the disciplined approach this book offers, and the table will be full whenever you are there. This confident attitude, coupled with sensible, useful, and constructive advice, is what the boss expects, relies on, and respects you for in the process.