For the past six months or so, I’ve been a management consultant. I’ve also coached a couple people who want to improve their performance as managers and leaders.
Over the years, I’ve known a number of consultants, lawyers, and others who provide ad hoc services to companies and individuals. They always talked about how they loved their work. They tackled challenging situations for their clients. They provided excellent advice about how to work through them. It may have been how to grow a new business, limit risks associated with an existing business, or maybe the best way to find and retain the right talent.
And yet, there was always something missing. The missing ingredient? They didn’t own the execution of their advice. In fact, there’s no guarantee that their clients would even take their advice and run with it. They were in the “advise and hope” business.
I didn’t fully understand this distinction until my children became adults. As a parent, I enjoyed teaching our kids the ways of the world. Talking through new situations, and helping equip them to make sound decisions on their own. When they started actually making those (hopefully) sound decisions for themselves, I realized I had entered the “advise and hope” phase of parenting. I’m pleased that my children often seek my advice, but I know that the final decisions are up to them…as it should be.
Having experienced this subtle shift in my role as a parent made the recent shift in my professional life a bit easier. I fully understand that no matter how great (from my perspective, of course) my advice is, ultimately the client determines their next steps. They choose which parts of my advice to take, and which to ignore.
My role is to provide the best advice possible, asking the tough questions that nobody else will ask. After that, it is up to my client. I don’t get to own their decisions.
I own one thing: my sincerest hope that I can help my clients achieve success, even if they ignore some of my best advice.