Advising With Authenticity (It’s Not Time to Fake It)

Thought Leadership Articles

Published 01 November 2021

In this ever-changing reality we now find ourselves in, now is not the time to take liberties when it comes to providing the right advice in business. The age-old adage of “fake it till you make it” just doesn’t work anymore (and in some cases, it never did!). The expectation has previously been that falsity will generate personal encouragement and eventually, confidence. However, false confidence does not breed true confidence, and most importantly competence. Let alone the risk of losing credibility and sabotaging personal success. It’s not worth it.

As advisors and as professionals, we must instead take ownership of our personal and professional development, and the advice we give. How? By finding your way realistically and honestly (which may come with some hard lessons), and by keeping current.

We know that seeking and investing in ongoing professional and personal development enhances our skills and abilities, no matter what stage of our professional life. This will bring the confidence and encouragement we so desire, not only in ourselves but for how others we support.

Beyond raising your skillset, a huge part of ‘making it’ has always been greatly affected by the network you move within. By surrounding yourself with people who complement your strengths and help balance out your weaknesses, self-nurturing becomes an upgrade that runs continuously in the background.

By surrounding yourself with people who complement your strengths and help balance out your weaknesses, self-nurturing becomes an upgrade that runs continuously in the background.

As Advisory Board practitioners, we recognise the power of collaboration in how we support better thinking and decision making for organisations. Businesses and colleagues trust advisors based on quality, competence, and commitment – these all underpin individual reputation. Unlike “fake it till you make it”, a motto that has not lost its relevance over the years is “always under-promise and over-deliver”; only ever offer services that can be delivered and deliver no less than the commitments made. In any business or advisory engagement, it is imperative to understand and respect role boundaries for a truly ethical engagement.

Ultimately, we cannot provide sound advice and guidance without having a solid foundation to draw on. When chosen, we have a responsibility to provide our craft, empowering not only the business but ourselves and the greater advisory sector. Do not damage trust in a relationship or your reputation and future opportunities by falsifying the experience you can provide.

Advisory Boards are here to stay, they’re not a fad. I know you hear me say this all the time, however, I do so because it comes with credence from continuous research and undeniable changes in the market. This represents both opportunities and risks for us as Advisory Board professionals. With a largely unregulated market, what “good” looks like will be challenged. This places increased importance on best practice and ethical frameworks to help navigate the complexities of roles, functions, and relationships around the Advisory Board table.

Ethical frameworks provide solid credibility to keeping current. Our recently updated Advisory Board Centre’s Code of Ethics (members can access the full document) has drawn it into alignment with the ABF101: Advisory Board Best Practice Framework™ and clearly defines the parameters of currency. Reviewed annually by our Best Practice and Ethics Advisory Board on behalf of members, these guidelines provide a base and confidence in how our community of advisors go forth with their engagements in best practice. I am personally and professionally grateful for the role of the Best Practice and Ethics Board to safeguard the sector.

It is worth noting, however, that no guideline can address every issue or situation. It is not a substitute for good judgement, good communication and proper business conduct. The strength of an Advisory Board is the strength of the collective knowledge and sharing of relevant experience. Circling back to the importance of your network; by building and utilising a support system of fellow advisors, you create a safety net of go-to people who will tell you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear.

And so, as we go into 2022 with the new normal and mostly at peace with how things will be, we must inspire each other to do better, stay consistent, and be our authentic selves when it comes to our careers and as advisory practitioners. By developing ourselves professionally and personally, we increase capabilities and create new learning pathways and avenues of opportunity, ultimately leading to career fulfilment. Whether we are Chairs, advisors, members of a board – we don’t just have a responsibility, we have a responsibility to do it well. Be authentically you. Face it, make it, just don’t fake it.


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