An external advisor works like a coach but the client is usually a team, a project, an organization, a board of directors or a community. For more information on this distinction, please see “Leadership Coach vs. External Advisor” in the Coaching Insights section. Similar to leadership coaching, the larger goal of the helping relationship is to build the client’s capacity to address similar challenges or opportunities on their own in the future.
An external advisor reviews plans for the change effort that the client is developing and provides feedback and guidance about how to best to put the change effort into action. The extent of the relationship can range from a single hour to several years. Here are some examples where I have served as an external advisor:
- The Safe Schools Initiative was a pilot project coordinated by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office from 2003-2006 aimed at reducing the incidence of bullying in three Massachusetts school districts. My assistance to the project team continued from 2004 to 2006. My initial work centered on helping the team develop an assessment of the existing rate of bullying in these districts that could be easily repeated annually to assess the project’s effectiveness. Later on I also advised the project regarding how this assessment data could be most effectively shared with districts schools and then utilized to develop specific solutions.
- An executive in charge of field operations for a national non-profit approached me to review his strategy and plans for improving the fund-raising culture of over 50 chapter boards. We spoke for only an hour because it was quickly evident to me that he had thoroughly thought through this entire project and I provided him that feedback.
- One client asked for my assistance in refining her plans for the merger of two other organizations with her organization. We worked together over two months to refine the merger process and also plan for in-person meetings of all those affected to come to common agreements about the vision, mission and values of the new organization.
- A town committee wanted a review of its plans for increasing the recycling rates of its residents, resulting in a initial two-hour meeting and subsequent meetings after each new annual reassessment.
- The board of directors of a non-profit agency asked me to assist with board development and creating board committees, policies and procedures for hiring, supervising and reviewing the performance of new employees.
For more detailed information see the following: