Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Are You a Business Superhero(ine)?

Amir and I have made a study of learning from and about Trusted Advisors over the last few years. We’ve spoken to many a client and colleague to see what separates Trusted Advisors from the rest of the pack. All in all, we’ve learned that success springs more from design and not by luck, mainly due to a consistent set of behaviors. We thought our observations were worth sharing with you. You no doubt have spotted some of these super hero qualities in your business meetings.

1. Trusted Advisors are not self referential.
We see many LinkedIn profiles these days with the Trusted Advisor title which is rather like calling yourself beautiful. Trusted Advisor is an earned title and one should never refer to one’s self as such. Just as Lois Lane looked to Superman as her hero, your audience/network/clients determine if you really are one.

2. Not everyone is a Trusted Advisor.
Not everyone is Captain America and not everyone actually is a Trusted Advisor. Some people have it in their DNA and yet others go through intensive training to break their bad habits and learn some of the Trusted Advisor fundamentals.

3. Listening is an underrated skill set.
Trusted Advisors are awesome listeners. If this were a super hero talent, it would be in the form of an enormous ear. They listen so well for the obvious cues and the very subtle cues that they are able to repeat both verbatim. And it’s hearing the subtle cues that set these people apart from the rest.

4. They ask insightful questions.
If Amir had his way, Columbo would have been classified as super hero for his questioning skills. Trusted Advisors ask great questions and are like a surgeon diagnosing and locating the problem area. Their ability to ask a series of questions to get at the root of the problem quickly set them apart from the mortals.

5. Problem solving is second nature.
Like Batman, Trusted Advisors are caped crusaders in the pursuit of wiping out business problems. Thanks to #4, they separate themselves from the pack by solving the problems their questions have identified. Bad advisors ask terrible or irrelevant questions that can get annoying. Batman may have been overly serious, but he was never annoying!

6. They make it rain.
Thanks to #3, #4, and #5, their super hero skill is a welcome refreshing rainshower that makes flowers grow and rainbows appear with pots of gold. Because they efficiently separate wheat from chaff, they become very successful very quickly.

7. Trusted Advisors are niche-o-holics.
You can’t make Spiderman do what Wonder Woman can do. What made Super Friends an awesome Saturday morning cartoon was that they all banded together to leverage their individual strengths. Trusted Advisors know their #1 skill and leverage it to everyone’s benefit. If someone says they can do it all, we say they might be The Joker! Beware.

8. Behind every Trusted Advisor is a key mentor.
Trusted Advisors like to pay it forward. They typically have at least one person who helped guide and mold them. You’ll recall that Superman always held his father as a role model. And, though not a superhero, Mork had Orson. Trusted Advisors have mentors because they welcome feedback and want to constantly improve their game. It explains why they are very good at what they do.

9. They could eat strategy for breakfast.
They strategize a lot almost and we mean a lot. Prior to calls, meetings, they really understand what can impact the deal (both in a positive way and also in a negative way). They understand that planning is a key element of a high success ratio. They dont get in front of a lot of people but when they do, their chances are in their favor. Spiderman didn’t do things blindly!

10. They have bionic vision.
Steve Austin had a bionic eye and so do Trusted Advisors. Some of the most successful ones we have worked with see almost immediately whether they can help the customer or not. If they can't, they quickly disqualify themselves and move on which saves a lot of time and energy! This also helps with finding simpatico colleagues.

11. They have sidekicks!
Thanks to #10, they are very good at putting together a list of strategic providers and other complimentary vendors. Bruce Wayne had Alfred and Batman did have Robin, after all!

12. They like to help!
Trusted Advisors accept their roles gladly. Like a super hero, you never hear them resent the awesome responsibility they have. Also like your favorite super hero, they never do it for the accolades. A simple thank you suffices.

Are you doing any of the above? Do you have a person in your network whom you think embodies super hero qualities? If so, send them this post with our compliments! And, please introduce us to them. We’d love to shake their hands.

If you've enjoyed this post, our other 12 Most posts can be found here.

Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef

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