Get Advisors, Not “Yes Men”

Leader Knowledge, blog post, Making great leadership decisions

Why pay for affirmation when you can affirm yourself for free? Consulting is about truth!

OK, so I’ve been talking to leaders in various industries who operate in different capacities.  One of the most common topics is relative to constructing a strong board of advisors (So many sub-topics…I think this’ll be a series).  The thinking goes that if you do not know how to do something or need help on it, get a consultant (Great idea especially for those of us–me included–who freelance and/or do consults for other businesses!), but how do you go about finding a good consultant or others to be apart of your board of advisors?

**Before I move on, let me say that there is a real need for a board of advisors for EVERY business, no matter how big or small.  Sometimes as business owners, we can get caught up doing things the way we see them and miss some stuff that shouldn’t be overlooked.  As the saying goes, two (or more) heads are always better than one.  A word of caution:  too many cooks will spoil the pot, though.**

Now, moving right along…let’s define consultant. The best, gobbledygook-free way I can define a consultant is one who provides advice, usually on an hourly basis, for a fee. These consultants do not make commission because they are not selling products. They are paid strictly for their time. So, no product or sales pitches, just advice.

Sounds simple, right? Not so fast…An increasingly “popular”, yet annoying, trend is for consultants to become “yes men” to the client.  Instead of relying on experience and real knowledge, these “consultants” (if you can even still call them that) would rather co-sign (agree with) everything that the client wants to do. Instead of giving real advice, even at the expense of watching a client tank himself, these people decide to say, “Yes, that’s a great idea!” to nearly everything that the client says.  These “yes men” reinforce bad business decisions and  behaviors  rather than give advice that will correct the bad behaviors and help the client make better decisions.

Why does this happen?  The reason is simple.  As I just said, they are afraid that the client will not call on them next time they need advice.  They are thinking only of themselves and not the client.  Their self-interest reigns supreme over the client’s need for truth, and sometimes harsh reality check.  Before we go and bash all consultants, good consultants do not engage in this type of behavior (Next post, “How to Create a Strong Advisory Board, Part 1).

Also, I do have to note that it’s not completely the consultant’s fault (although all consultants should adhere to ethical behavior guidelines). I am positive that it wouldn’t be this way if there were not clients who decided that they wouldn’t give a call back to a consultant because his or her opinions differed from theirs.  This brings me to a thought-provoking question…

Why would you pay for advice when all you want is someone to affirm your decisions and actions, good, bad or indifferent?

Can you say, waste of money???

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