January 11, 2005      
Topics of Trust and Leadership, from the authors of The Trusted Leader



The authors of The Trusted Leader

This month’s article is the fourth in a series written for managers “on their way in,” whether it is to a new organization, or even to a new role.

For those of you who are reading this newsletter for the first time, our topics are based on accompanying material written for the book The Trusted Leader.

Last month we discussed the importance of listening and doing your homework before taking action. One of the ways to do your homework (and avoid appearing lost) in the beginning is to find yourself a guide – someone, or maybe even a few people, who can help you avoid hidden pitfalls. We see these individuals falling into one of two camps, and depending upon your situation and your own personality, you might figure out which of the two you need most.

-Rob and Anne-


The Trusted Leader

Previous Issues:

Establish Trust by Listening and Doing Your Homework

Past Performance is no Guarantee of Future Results

What if You Flub It?


Next month's issue: Learn the Language

What were the five most popular back issues in 2004?


Dante was right. Whether you're now in New Heaven or New Hell (or even somewhere in between), it helps to have a guide.

When you start in a new role, or even on a new assignment, it's rare that all the territory is known to you. So how do you find your way, and avoid both the obvious and the hidden pitfalls? Unless you already know the players, you'll need to find yourself a guide, or even several.

In whom can you place your trust? On whom can you depend for the inside scoop? Who can tell you where the land mines are? It would be ideal if you could find one person to fill each of these roles, but they are often too disparate a set of needs for a single solution.

Instead, being successful in building trust on the way in requires a certain set of information gathering and judgment that sheer intellectual force on your part cannot accomplish by itself. Perhaps you can do it alone, but it's risky. You will be better served by finding one or more people performing in one of these two roles: the ask-me-anything guide, or the trusted advisor.

The Ask-Me-Anything Guide

This is the internal person to whom you can ask the silly questions, or all the things you think you should already know but are embarrassed to ask.

You can ask this guide what people you should know, to whom you have been introduced, and whose roles you should know, to say nothing of their names. Except you can't remember for the life of you what their names are or what their roles are.

The ask-me-anything guide tells you what the three-letter acronyms are that everyone uses, but whose meaning escapes you. You need someone you can ask without feeling foolish.

While an able administrative person might help you with the everyday, it's valuable to figure out who else can help you with the more complex issues, help you figure out what's missing, and the like. One bit of warning, however: You'll need to quickly sort out the lobbyists from the legitimate aides. It's funny how often people with personal agendas will be the first (or longest) in your office, giving you the inside scoop as they see it.

The Trusted Advisor

The second person is someone external, whom you can use to test your impressions and with whom you can do some early soundings. While the first days and weeks are the busiest, they are also among the most crucial. It's the time when you need a trusted advisor. (You would expect that advice from someone who also co-wrote a book called The Trusted Advisor, wouldn't you?). But it's true. This is the time when you really do need it.

Your trusted advisor could be a former colleague, mentor, or personal friend who not only understands you and how you operate, but can also grasp your attempts to explain the structure, politics, personalities, and objectives of the new organization or the new task. It might be a consultant, but it doesn’t have to be.

I have a partner in my own organization who excels in this role. He’s never held a position in a large corporation, but experienced top executives in large entities tend to gravitate toward him. His work would hardly classify as consulting work in the classical sense. But he sure does have the ear of the senior-most people, and they quietly rely on him heavily for all sorts of things.

The Choice is Yours

While it’s great to keep one’s own counsel, it can be a lonely road, and no one will be there to help you avoid making the wrong turns. The person can be an insider or an outsider. Just as long as you have someone.

To whom do you turn? Let us know.

~ ~ ~


According to the traffic on our Web site during the past year, these past issues of the newsletter are read most often. Take a look at what your colleagues are reading:

  1. It will take courage to restore investors' faith (April 2003)
  2. External Crises Need Internal Alignment (May 2004)
  3. Dealing with a Bigmouth (January 2004)
  4. A High-Level Clique (October 2003)
  5. A Grudge from the Past (September 2003)

Please forward this newsletter to your colleagues and friends who are interested in organizational and leadership issues. Your feedback is always welcome at info@thetrustedleader.com.


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