Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Coach as "Trusted Advisor"

 Honestly, a huge part of my job, as a coach, teacher, father, husband, and friend, as I see it, is BEING THERE physically, mentally, emotionally. Being there for someone... anyone, requires you to let go of 'you'; let go of the "me-monster". The Trusted Advisor by David Maister, gives some great tips for recognizing a "me-monster" mindset and how to right things so that you can become your students or athletes' "trusted advisor".

The Trusted Advisor
Are you excessively self-oriented? Ask yourself if you do any of the following when working with clients or students, take a moment to think about them, and answer them honestly. This might require a little pride-swallowing and if it makes you defensive then that's something to think about...

Clients recognize excessive self-orientation through such things as:

1. A tendency to relate their stories to ourselves

2. A need to too quickly finish their sentences for them

3. A need to fill empty spaces in conversations

4. A need to appear clever, bright, witty, etc.

5. An inability to provide a direct answer to a direct question

6. An unwillingness to say we don't know

7. Name-dropping of other clients

8. A recitation of qualifications

9. A tendency to give answers too quickly

10. A tendency to want to have the last word

11. Close-ended questions early on

12. Putting forth hypotheses or problem statements before fully hearing the client's hypotheses or problem statements

13. Passive listening; a lack of visual and verbal cues that indicate the client is being heard

14. Watching the client as if he/she were a television set (merely a source of data)

Maister gives many tips for becoming your client, student, or athlete's "trusted advisor" by doing the following things to demonstrate a lack of self-orientation:

1. Letting the client fill in the empty spaces

2. Asking the client to talk about what's behind an issue

3. Using open-ended questions

4. Not giving answers until the right is earned to do so (and the client will let you know when you have earned it)

5. Focusing on defining the problem, not guessing the solution

6. Reflective listening, summarizing what we've heard to make sure we heard correctly what was said and what was intended

7. Saying you don't know when you don't know

8. Acknowledging the feelings of the client (with respect)

9. Learning to tell the client's story before we write our own

10. Listening to clients without distractions: door closed, phone off, email not in line of sight, frequent eye contact

11. Resisting with confidence a client's invitation to provide a solution too early on - to stay in the listening and joint problem definition phases of discussion

12. Trusting in our ability to add value after listening, rather than trying to do so during listening

13. Taking most of the responsibility for failed communications
- The Trusted Advisor


Charles Green said...


As co-author of The Trusted Advisor, I always appreciate seeing parts of the book quoted; thank you. In particular, the idea of self-orientation was important to Maister, Galford and me; we made it the denominator in the Trust Equation--a very useful concept in being trustworthy.

If you're interested in looking at a self-assessment tool based on the trust equation, try

Or for more general information,

Thanks again for highlighting the critical issue of self-orientation.

Boris said...

I loved your book and I'll give it another read promptly now that you've stopped by. Thank you!