What do you do when a client presents a problem and their approach does not make sense?

You have a solution in mind and can confidently resolve it, but you choose to stay silent.

Acquiescing on the way forward, for many reasons, sometimes due to fear, thinking of recriminations, or not seeing yourself as a peer.

The challenge can be that sometimes leaders are only interested in their view, perceiving feedback as a personal criticism that goes straight to their identity.

It’s hard to work with a leader like that as you often agree with everything they say, withholding the truth when certain situations arise.

I’m reminded of a situation with a client with a particular challenge. I listened intently and allowed him to explain it fully. Then, I summarised my understanding and asked him to confirm if he felt I understood everything.

He said you have a great way of summarising your understanding.

With this caveat in mind, I said, ‘From my understanding, I’d like to think if I were in your position, this is what I would do, but you know the whole picture.”

I proceeded to explain how I would approach it.

He listened (at least appeared to), we discussed the matter at length and reviewed the options. And then, he came to a decision he was happy with.

At the end of the day, we all have the power to decide, but I believe that in our capacity as Consultants/ Trusted Advisors, we have a duty to challenge – professionally and firmly – which is why we’re there in the first place.

You must have the courage to stand in your expertise, ask the difficult questions and see where it goes.

Your client is paying for you to ask, challenge, and discuss topics they cannot discuss with their team, and they need a safe space to have these discussions without judgment or you being fearful of telling the truth.

Diplomacy is vital here, but the truth must lead the way.

This is where your value lies.