Leaders Seek Counsel

People who seek counsel tend to consult with trusted advisors to help evaluate risks and possible outcomes.

We’ll start with a real-life negative example: A new superintendent in a school district put forth a new program idea: SCUBA diving instruction.

He had done it at his old school, to great success (according to him), so he pushed for it at his new assignment despite differences in the districts. He did the grant-writing, promoting, and logistics without asking for insights from others. He acted independently and autonomously.

This had some negative impacts. It hurt his credibility. It took away time from other efforts. It sent the message that the opinions of others were to be disregarded. And, it even led to ethical quandaries when the measurable impact of the program was exaggerated in order to garner support for its continuation.

Now let’s look at our positive case study: American Express had its own communications team, but instead of thinking independently like that superintendent, they sought counsel.

Rosa Alfonso served on the corporate communications team at AmEx since 2005, still for the Small Business Saturday initiative, she turned to M Booth and their corporate team. M Booth had been more than a vendor of services for AmEx in the past, and their resourcefulness, creativity, and strategic ideation were helpful for other initiatives.

More about the M Booth people in future posts. For now, note this: Rosa and her VP at that time, Tom Sclafani, had tremendous experience and a track record of success. They could be forgiven if they had thought independently and relied upon their staffs, but they picked up the phone instead.

Leaders tend to have a lot of experience and expertise, and may be temped to decide independently and autonomously, but this is a mistake when visioning a process or project.

No matter how sure you are, seek counsel by consulting with trusted advisors to evaluate risks and possible outcomes.

Seeking Counsel is a leadership behavior that helps drive the Testing of Assumptions during the Vision process of the Work of Leaders.

To learn more about an assessment that measures and guides growth for leaders and potential leaders, start here.

To learn more by reading a great book, see the link below. Purchases made through that link may result in a small commission for me.

This is the fifth post in an 18-part series. Throughout the series, I’ll be providing real-world negative examples from a variety of settings.

For positive examples, we’ll look at one specific case study: the Small Business Saturday initiative from American Express. Small Business Saturday has become part of the holiday shopping lexicon (positioned between Black Friday and Cyber Monday) and reminds us to “Shop Small” and keep our dollars local. It’s been tremendously successful and is a huge initiative, but there’s a behind-the-scenes story that lifts up best practices in leadership we can all adopt; not every leader or team member involved is a high-level executive at American Express. In fact, much of the effort was a product of the work of a specific team at M Booth, a mid-sized award winning PR firm. Follow along to learn more. To start at the first post in this series, click here.

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