Becoming a Trusted Advisor

PMI Delaware Valley Chapter

Laura Dallas Burford is the founder of LAD Enterprizes, a management consulting firm that partners with consultants as well as internal and external consulting organizations to successfully build the operational and delivery aspects of their practices. Laura appreciates feedback on her articles and can be reached at She is the author of Project Management for Flat Organizations.

Periodically I’m asked, “How do I become a trusted advisor? I want to be more than just a project manager.”

It’s easy to rattle off that trusted advisors provide advice, listen, ask questions, partner with their customers, solve problems, and explain their value, but I always take a deep pause before I continue. A key trait for any trusted advisor is to be perceived as a leader and expert in their field. This means that a project manager who wants to become known as a trusted advisor needs to not only be knowledgeable and an expert in project management, but they also need to lead and educate others.

This article discusses what a trusted advisor is and provides suggestions to assist you with becoming such a leader. (If you read Build Your Own Learning Culture, consider adding these suggestions to your learning plan.)

What is a trusted advisor? How about a thought leader?
There are many definitions and variations, but a trusted advisor is a person who is not only informed about their field, but is also the go-to person because of their knowledge and expertise. They are thought of as a solution provider. They have credibility and trust with their audience, as well as inspire and educate others.

Trusted advisors can eventually become thought leaders. A thought leader is a trusted advisor, but a trusted advisor is not always a thought leader. …

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