The Secret to Making Yourself Indispensable

You’re a part of the executive team — your colleagues ask you for advice. Well… most of the time. It’s not that you’re left out — it’s just that the CEO and your other team members don’t quite view you as an essential Trusted Advisor.

Yes, You Can Transform Yourself Into The Trusted Advisor

At this point in your career, even the combination of substantive knowledge and the right experience is — amazingly — not enough. You think strategically, see all the issues, and yet… when it comes to critical strategic decisions, your advice isn’t given the weight it deserves.

The key is learning C-Suite techniques for:

  • Increasing buy-in as you manage change;
  • Reinventing your image — from “no” person to “know” person; and
  • Becoming a trusted advisor to the C-suite by transforming your knowledge into sought-after advice.

But how?

Learn to Ask Questions Like a Coach!

You need to learn how to coach — and then coach prolifically. That is, you need to ask your colleagues targeted, open-ended questions designed to elicit their best thinking. The key is that the more you coach, the more likely your colleague is to recognize you are his or her trusted advisor.

Imagine a colleague who resists a change or your direction — you reiterate the benefits yet fail to achieve alignment. By asking your colleague open-ended questions, focused on how to implement the change, your colleague engages in the problem-solving process and buys into its implementation.

So, what is coaching, exactly? The coaching model below outlines a five-step problem-solving process — what makes it “coaching” is the use of open-ended questions at each step. The distinction between using Coaching Skills and having a full-blown Coaching Conversation is that the former involves the use of one or more open-ended questions. The latter follows the model.

Start a Coaching Conversation

Step 1: Establish the Focus of the conversation, which means asking open-ended questions to clarify the topic, goal, and take-away from the conversation. This step is often the most important because a problem well-defined is half-solved.

Step 2: Brainstorm Options to the challenge by asking your colleague open-ended questions to identify strategies. It’s critical for your colleague to do his or her own thinking here. Wait to share suggestions.

Step 3: Create the Action Plan — especially important for complex problems and for colleagues who garner comfort from working out detailed steps (or who get stuck easily).

Step 4: Remove Obstacles and identify resources. This step is often overlooked, but is absolutely necessary to successfully execute the plan created in Step 3. Don’t forget it!

Step 5: Review & Commit is the most forgotten step, and, especially if you are using the coaching model to run a meeting, is critical to ensure all team members are on the same page with respect to who does what by when.

Finally, you ask, “what’s the link to making yourself indispensable?”

Colleagues view those who ask coaching questions — who don’t just jump in with the answer — as thoughtful, reflective, and focused on the bigger picture. This is an executive presence, and this is what ensures you have a seat at the table. You are indispensable because you ask the right questions — the questions that ensure that nothing is overlooked and that decisions are well-considered. You’ll still offer your advice — that’s just not all you contribute.

Want to learn more? If you’re in the DC area, Register here to join me for a workshop on:

  • November 9 for Embracing and Improving Your Leadership Style or
  • November 30 for Tactical Leadership Skills

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