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 your 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. The creation of trust is what earns the right to influence clients; trust is also at the root of client satisfaction and loyalty. The workings of trust are even more critical in the new economy than in the old. Maister, Green, and Galford enrich our understanding of trust---yet they have also written a deeply practical book. Using their model of the "Trust Equation," they dissect the rational and emotional components of trustworthiness. With precision and clarity, they detail five distinct steps you must take to create a trust-based relationship. Each step---engage, listen, frame, envision, and commit---is richly described in distinct chapters.
The book is peppered with pragmatic "top ten" lists aimed at improving advisors' effectiveness that can be put to use instantly. This book will be welcomed by the inexperienced advisor and the most seasoned expert alike. The authors use anecdotes, experiences, and examples---successes and mistakes, their own and others'---to great effect. Though they use the professional services advisor/client paradigm throughout the book, their prescriptions have resonance for other trust-reliant situations---selling, customer relationship management, and internal staff functions like HR and information technology. The result is a tour de force---brilliant, penetrating, unique. It is essential listening for anyone who must advise, negotiate, or manage complex relationships with others.
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
- Respect you
- Share more information that helps you to
help them, and improves the quality of the service you provide
your bills without question
- Refer you to their friends and business
- Lower the level of stress in your interactions
- Give you the benefit of the doubt
- Forgive you when you make a
- Protect you when you need it (even from their own
- Warn you of dangers that you might avoid
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?
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
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.
- Seem to understand us, effortlessly, and
- 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)
substitute their judgment for ours
- Don't panic or get overemotional
(they stay calm)
- Help us think and separate our logic from our
- 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
- Give us reasoning (to help us think), not just their
- Give us options, increase our understanding of those
options, give us their recommendation, and let us choose
our assumptions (help us uncover the false assumptions we've been
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
Excerpted from "The Trusted Advisor" by David H. Maister. Copyright © 2001 by David H. Maister. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.