We all need “Trusted Advisors”, people who will tell us when we are “on course” or “off course” on a grand scale or in little things in a constructive manner, without malice or self-serving intent.
I read Stephen Hess’s “Organizing the Presidency” in 1977 (1976 edition; 3rd Edition: http://www.brookings.edu/press/Books/2002/organizingthepresidency.aspx, 2002).
I was struck by the advise to high level executives (the President!) for chosing Senior Advisors. From my notes, an extremely brief summary of advisable selection criteria would include:
“Persuasiveness. Necessary in hierarchical entities. Leaders have limited control over staff and inertia is considerable.
Personal stability. Calls for a sturdy internal gyroscope, stamina, and the ability to work under pressure.
Broad-gauged intelligence. Ability to conceptualize, to see the policy implications and consequences of their actions.
Flexibility. They must do so without losing sight of the leader’s ultimate goals.
A sense of duty. They are not elected. Paradoxically, they must have an even sharper sense of responsibility than the leader.
A thick skin. Will be lightning rods for public unhappiness and must deflect as much criticism as possible from the leader.
Patience and impatience. Must be able to deal with endless procedures, hearings and meetings and at the same time prod subordinates to do better and use impatience with status quo as a constructive management tool.”
Those qualities might well be considered when looking for any team of advisors, whether you think that you are “Presidential” material or not. And, while you are thinking about it, carefully consider whether or not you carry those qualities when you are the “trusted advisor” to someone else in your life? If not, consider changing your approach! After all,
Action is the new competence!