Pillow talk

Jan 19 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Who do senior executives turn to for advise when they have tough decisions to make or problems to resolve? Forget colleagues, advisors or consultants. They majority will ask their trusted other half.

Research carried out by MORI for the business consultancy Chiumento has found that spouses are the unofficial business advisors to more than six out of ten UK board members

In the report –aptly-named ‘The Captain’s First Mate’ - trust emerges as the main reason for keeping things in the family, followed by objectivity and experience.

The only people who are trusted more than spouses (and then only six per cent more) are the managing director, chairman or chief executive.

HR professionals fare pretty poorly in the advice stakes, being chosen as a sounding board by fewer than one in three board members, even when personnel issues are on the agenda. Indeed, more than a third of the business leaders questioned said that they would consult a friend on tricky issues – three times more than said they would talk to their marketing director.

Leadership campaigner Julia Middleton, founder of Common Purpose, said that family and friends will often point things out that colleagues would rather gloss over.

"As you progress, people tend to start deferring to you too readily. The advantage of many spouses is that they don’t hold you in too much esteem. They provide support, of course, when all looks grim; but they are also able to get you to face the difficult questions you would rather avoid.”