It’s been three weeks since I started my new position and it happened. The it to which I am referring is the reintroduction to the idea that Actors and Advisors live on different planes. They think differently, they approach problems differently, and they have different expectations of each other. Actors act, Advisors advise;  Actors do, Advisors inform; and Actors lead, Advisors follow.

Over the course of a career, no matter what it is, we grow from someone with great potential into someone who produces (at least that is the expectation). As our expertise grows, the number of people we advise and the relative importance of the subjects on which we inform increases. And some of us are fortunate enough to earn the authority that comes with the evolution from Advisor to Actor. What happens when that authority we enjoyed as an Actor is no longer? What happens when we Actors are asked to dress in Advisor clothes? That is where I find myself now, back to the familiar role that is Advisor. The reality is that good Advisors influence decisions, shape outcomes, and deliver results; we earn the right to have the ear of the Actors, and when doing our job properly we drive the most significant opportunities to the front of our boss’ priority list.

We may no longer sit at the head of the table, but depending on whom we are advising, we may actually enjoy greater influence as Advisor than we did as Actor. When doing our jobs correctly, it is the decisions we influence that drive the action of the organization. It is when we are slow to inform that our seniors end up having to shape the advising we do. The best Advisors lead up, while the average are content merely answering the questions thrown our way. And so the cycle continues…from Advisor to Actor and from Actor back to Advisor. The trick is to repeatedly earn that right to build upon the influence we enjoy, to help those we advise to do the same, and to help those informing us to grow into Actors.

The truth is Actors and Advisors do not live on different planes. We play integral roles on the same plane and enjoy a symbiotic relationship. An Actor is lost without good Advisors and an Advisor is far less relevant without an Actor who will actually make decisions. The best Actors embrace the role of Advisor and the best Advisors are quick to earn the trust of the Actor they support. Regardless of which role we are currently playing, without a shared commitment to action, the relationship is doomed to one filled with frustration and missed opportunities.

To my fellow Advisors: Time to Advise and inspire Action!

To my fellow Actors: Time to Act!

  • Who are you advising?
  • WHo is advising you?
  • What action are you collaboratively inspiring?