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Consiglieri: A Family Business CEO’s Chief of Staff

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When you are the CEO of a business you created, you realize that no one person can fulfill all of the duties expected of being the Boss. Every CEO needs someone who is level-headed, patient, experienced, without a conflicting agenda and, most importantly, has the integrity both to stand up for you when you are right, and to stand up to you when you are wrong. Not only do you need this for your business, but also for family and for your wealth. Ideally, this person is able to lead, but chooses to work for you and sees your success as a higher purpose than gratifying their ego. When this role is confined to your business, this person is your Chief of Staff, but when this role crosses over into family, wealth and even community matters, this person is your Consigliere.

In the movie “The Godfather” the consigliere is the family lawyer and often times this is true in reality. They may be the Chief Legal Officer on your business organizational chart, but their help is no limited to legal matters as it includes business, family and personal matters as well.

As CEO, you are the ultimate decision-maker, but consigliere enhance your decisions by collaborating with others, providing the connections needed to execute on your decisions, and communicating with both you and others as an advisor. Your consigliere goes beyond just giving advice by pushing back against your plans by asking if your strategy is necessary to achieve your objective, whether there is other, alternative, strategies that are better for achieving your objective, whether this plan is, by itself, sufficient to achieve your objective and are there viable alternative courses of action when situations beyond your control make the original plan no longer feasible.

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Useful as all of this is, the most important thing is that your consigliere is someone you trust. They must be someone who will keep their word, will not abuse their authority, ensure that “fair play” is done and will “to the right thing”. Your consigliere will have both competence and credibility.

So, how do you find someone you can trust to be your consigliere? First is to find someone who has competence and credibility, next is to enter into a relationship with them where they can demonstrate their abilities to act as your consigliere, finally, be willing to let them take some of the duties that you now have as boss off your table.

Source: Forbes

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