Even If It Hurts
Last week, in The 3 R’s: Finding a “Responsive Reliable Resource”, while writing about people who are “Reliable”, I stumbled upon an idea that I promised to revisit in a future blog.
As I put it then, “As I write these words, I’m realizing that there’s a whole other blog that I’ll need to write, to expound upon this question”.
So expound I will.
Hurting Me, Hurting You
The key point at the root of my “eureka” moment came from this sentence:
“I want to be able to rely on someone to tell me the truth,
even if it hurts me, AND, even if it hurts them.”
These are two completely separate points, yet I’ve never seen them addressed together. That’s what made it so compelling for me to look at this again this week.
Tell Me the Truth, I Can Take It
One of the biggest problems that people at the top always face, no matter what kind of organisation they’re in, is having people tell them things that they “don’t want to hear”.
The CEO of a company will not always hear the truth from their underlings, not because those people are liars, but because most people have an aversion to telling their boss things that are not pleasant to relate.
The interesting part about this is that more often than not, they actually DO want to hear those things.
In fact, good leaders don’t want to be surrounded by “Yes-Men”.
How Long Will It Hurt?
The reality is that hearing the truth, if it’s something that you really do need to know and you really cannot see yourself, only hurts for a very short time.
Strong leaders realize that they’re not in a popularity contest, and that sometimes you need to hear things that hurt.
In order to make progress, a reality check is often needed, and folks at the top actually need to have MORE people who aren’t afraid to tell it like it is.
It’s great if you have people upon whom you can rely to play that role.
Despite My Self-Interest
That was one side of the “hurting” question, now let’s get to the even trickier part.
The “even if it hurts them” aspect can best be summed up in one word, “self-interest”. Not sure if a compound word really counts as one word, but I’ll use my “editorial license” to make it so here.
If you aren’t familiar with the “Trust Equation” or the “Trust Quotient”, I suggest you visit this site:
TrustedAdvisor.com so that you don’t just think I’m making this stuff up.
The denominator of the Trust Equation is “Self-Orientation” as they put it. “Self-interest” and “self-orientation” may not be identical twins, but they are most definitely close siblings.
Not Placing Blame
Business families are served by a variety of professionals from different industries, including legal, accounting, insurance, investment management and banking to name a few of the major ones.
Every person naturally brings their own perspective to the family’s situation, and that perspective is naturally rooted in their professional training, background and orientation.
It’s next to impossible for a banker to look at your family business from any other perspective than that of a banker, and likewise difficult for your attorney to look at things from a viewpoint other than that of your legal counsel.
I believe these things to be true in general in just about every profession, even though there are exceptions in all of them.
Well, if you’re looking for “reliable resources” you can count on, you really have to understand that getting 100% unbiased advice, especially if it might go against their own interest, will almost never happen.
And I’m not saying that any of your advisors are unethical or crooked in any way. They very likely believe that everything that they suggest to you is actually best for you.
What Are You Paying Them For?
Unfortunately for leaders of business families, most of the professionals upon whom they rely are paid for certain products and services that these people sell them.
Those who truly have their client’s interest as their top concern and only interest, are few and far between.
There aren’t many people who play that role but if you can find one, keep them!
Finding a reliable person you pay only for their counsel can be done.