Toward a deeper understanding of the role of trusted leadership advisor, and knowing if you are ready for it


Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice & Research

2017, vol. 69, n°1, pp.32-35

In “From Here to Certainty: Becoming CEO and How a Trusted Leadership Advisor (TLA) Helped the Client Get There,” Karol Wasylyshyn (2017) presents an engaging and thought-provoking case study of her client’s journey from a highly placed position within a multinational corporation to CEO of a newly spun-off subsidiary. The article breaks new ground and provides an aspirationalframework for next best practices, but it also opens the door to more complex and nuanced dilemmas in the coach–client contract that can and should be studied and debated.It describes in both theoretical and practical terms an emerging role in the field termed trusted leadership advisor (TLA)—a term made popular with the publication of The Trusted Advisor (Maister, Green, & Galford, 2000). Three years earlier, Robert Witherspoon and I (Witherspoon & White, 1997) defined four modes of engagement for executive coaches: coaching for skills, coachingfor development, coaching for remediation, and coaching for the executive’s agenda. The fourth mode, supporting the client’s personal trajectory for the benefit of the organization, may have been an early hint of what Karol Wasylyshyn (2017) has more precisely defined as the role of the TLA.Wasylyshyn (2017) also offers an important documentation of one path for the future of consulting psychology. The TLA as described in “From Here to Certainty” brings the executive coaching space to a higher level of engagement for psychologist or coaches and their clients. This appears to be both an advanced level of service for clients and a more clearly defined role for psychologists who seek to extend their work beyond traditional executive coaching.The TLA–client relationship delves deeper into the psyche of the client, as it encourages greater introspection and vulnerability on the part of the executive and bolder, riskier advisement on the part of the psychologist. This is a realm of consulting that demands both the highest levels of talent in psychological practice and a broad experience in world-class corporate environments, including a deep understanding of the interpersonal and political dynamics of large hierarchical organizations—or in the more concise words of Wasylyshyn (2017), it requires “the TLA’s exquisite attunement” (p. 16)