In today's fast-paced networked economy, professionals must work harder than ever to maintain and improve their business skills and knowledge. But technical mastery of one's discipline is not enough, assert world-renowned professional advisors David H. Maister, Charles H. Green, and Robert M. Galford. The key to professional success, they argue, is the ability to earn the trust and confidence of clients. To demonstrate the paramount importance of trust, the authors use anecdotes, experiences, and examples successes and mistakes, their own and others' to great effect. The result is an immensely readable book that will be welcomed by the inexperienced advisor and the most seasoned expert alike.
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About the Author
Charles H. Green is an executive educator and business strategy consultant to the professional services industry. Charlie has taught in executive education programs for the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, and for Columbia University Graduate School of Business, as well as independently through his firm, Trusted Advisor Associates. His current work centers on the nature of trust-based relationships within organizations, and on the management of professional service firms. Green is a graduate of Columbia and Harvard Business School. He spent the first twenty years of his career with The MAC Group and its successor, Gemini Consulting, where his roles included strategy consulting (in Europe and the United States), VP Strategic Planning, and a variety of other firm leadership roles. He is the author of numerous papers, with articles published in the Harvard Business Review and Management Horizons. He is president of Trusted Advisor Associates, which he founded with Rob Galford. He resides in Morristown, New Jersey.
Robert M. Galford is currently a Managing Partner of the Center for Executive Development in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was formerly the executive vice president and chief people officer of Digitas, Inc., a leading Internet professional services firm with over 1,400 employees. He taught for many years on executive programs at the Columbia Graduate School of Business and the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, in addition to consulting to professional services firms, technology companies, and financial institutions. Rob has lived and worked in both Western Europe and North America as a vice president of The MAC Group and its successor firm, Gemini Consulting. He has practiced law with the international firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle in New York and Washington, and has also worked in investment management for Citicorp. Rob's writing and commentaries on management have been published in the Boston Globe and he is a three-time contributor to the Harvard Business Review. He currently sits on the boards of directors of Forrester Research, Inc., and Access Data Corporation. He also hosts the business video Talk About Change! with the popular cartoon character Dilbert.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1: A Sneak Preview
Let's start with a question: What benefits would you obtain if your clients trusted you more?
Here's our list. The more your clients trust you, the more they will:
- Reach for your advice
- Be inclined to accept and act on your recommendations
- Bring you in on more advanced, complex, strategic issues
- Treat you as you wish to be treated
- Respect you
- Share more information that helps you to help them, and improves the quality of the service you provide
- Pay your bills without question
- Refer you to their friends and business acquaintances
- Lower the level of stress in your interactions
- Give you the benefit of the doubt
- Forgive you when you make a mistake
- Protect you when you need it (even from their own organization)
- Warn you of dangers that you might avoid
- Be comfortable and allow you to be comfortable
- Involve you early on when their issues begin to form, rather than later in the process (or maybe even call you first!)
- Trust your instincts and judgments (including those about other people such as your colleagues and theirs)
We would all like to have such professional relationships! This book is about what you must do to obtain these benefits.
What changes would you make to this list? What would you add? Delete?
Next, let's consider three additional questions:
Do you have a trusted advisor, someone you turn to regularly to advise you on all your most important business, career, and perhaps even personal decisions?
If you do, what are the characteristics of that person?
If you do not, what characteristics would you look for in selecting your trusted advisor?
Here is a listing of traits that our trusted advisors have in common. They:
- Seem to understand us, effortlessly, and like us
- Are consistent (we can depend on them)
- Always help us see things from fresh perspectives
- Don't try to force things on us
- Help us think things through (it's our decision)
- Don't substitute their judgment for ours
- Don't panic or get overemotional (they stay calm)
- Help us think and separate our logic from our emotion
- Criticize and correct us gently, lovingly
- Don't pull their punches (we can rely on them to tell us the truth)
- Are in it for the long haul (the relationship is more important than the current issue)
- Give us reasoning (to help us think), not just their conclusions
- Give us options, increase our understanding of those options, give us their recommendation, and let us choose
- Challenge our assumptions (help us uncover the false assumptions we've been working under)
- Make us feel comfortable and casual personally (but they take the issues seriously)
- Act like a real person, not someone in a role
- Are reliably on our side and always seem to have our interests at heart
- Remember everything we ever said (without notes)
- Are always honorable (they don't gossip about others, and we trust their values)
- Help us put our issues in context, often through the use of metaphors, stories, and anecdotes (few problems are completely unique)
- Have a sense of humor to diffuse (our) tension in tough situations
- Are smart (sometimes in ways we're not)
What would you add to (or delete from) this list?
Using the Golden Rule (we should treat others as we wish to be treated), we can probably make a fair assumption (or at least a good first approximation) that this list, or your list, is not much different from a list your clients would make.
So, if you want your clients to treat you as their trusted advisor, then you must meet as many of the "tests" on this list as possible.
Ask yourself: Which of these traits do my clients think I possess? (Not what you think you possess, but what they think you do!) If you suspect that you might not demonstrate all these traits, then how do you get better at each of them? That's what this book will try to answer.
Note that this book is not (just) about the wonderful benefits that wait at the end of the rainbow for the full-fledged trusted advisor, who does (or is) everything listed here. The early benefits of beginning to earn trust are substantial and can be obtained quickly. The ability to earn trust is a learnable skill, and we shall try in the succeeding pages to show "the yellow brick road" that leads to success.
Copyright © 2000 by David H. Maister, Charles H. Green, and Robert M. Galford
Table of ContentsContents
How to Use This Book
Part One: Perspectives on Trust
- A Sneak Preview
What would be the benefits if your clients trusted you more?
What are the primary characteristics of a trusted advisor?
- What Is a Trusted Advisor?
What do great trusted advisors all seem to do?
- Earning Trust
What are the dynamics of trusting and being trusted?
- How to Give Advice
How do you ensure your advice is listened to?
- The Rules of Romance: Relationship Building
What are the principles of building strong relationships?
- The Importance of Mindsets
What attitudes must you have to be effective?
- Sincerity or Technique?
Do you really have to care for those you advise?
Part Two: The Structure of Trust Building
- The Trust Equation
What are the four key components that determine the extent of trust?
- The Development of Trust
What are the five stages of trust-building?
How do you get clients to initiate discussions with you?
- The Art of Listening
How can you improve your listening skills?
- Framing the Issue
How can you help clients look at their issues in a fresh way?
- Envisioning an Alternate Reality
How can you help clients clarify what they're really after?
How do you ensure clients are willing to do what it takes to solve their problems?
Part Three: Putting Trust to Work
- What's So Hard About All This?
Why are truly trust-based relationships so scarce?
- Differing Client Types
How do you deal with clients of differing types?
- The Lieutenant Columbo Approach
What can we learn from an unorthodox winner?
- The Role of Trust in Getting Hired
How do you create trust at the outset of a relationship?
- Building Trust on the Current Assignment
How can you conduct your assignment in a way that adds to trust?
- Re-earning Trust Away from the Current Assignment
How can you build trust when you're not working on an assignment?
- The Case of Cross-Selling
Why is cross-selling so hard, and what can be done about it?
- The Quick-Impact List to Gain Trust
What are the key things you should do first?
Appendix: A Compilation of Our Lists
A comprehensive summary and list of concepts, insights, tips, and tactics.
Notes and References
About the Authors
What People are Saying About This
"This is a brilliant-and practical-book. In our 'world gone mad,' trust is, paradoxically, more important than ever." -Tom Peters, author of The Professional Service Firm 50