Technology & social media are reshaping recruiting even as I speak. Some feel Artificial Intelligence is the big game-changer. By, e.g. talent sourcing, locating, processing, analysing information faster, screening, assessing candidates. Chances are this leads to putting ever more emphasis on technology and less on personal relationships.

This raises a question: Will AI endanger or strengthen the Trusted Advisor relationships in Executive Search?

In my mind, for both the Client and the Search Consultant, a Trusted Advisor relationship is as important as ever. We are talking about long-term and mutually benefitting Business Partner relationships, which at best  develops into a “Trusted Advisor relationship”.

Some People assume that it is only the Search Consultant who is a Trusted Advisor for the Client and that this is the only dimension of the phrase Trusted Advisor in Executive Search. I feel this is narrowminded thinking. It takes two to tango. In my mind, a Trusted Advisor relationship is not a one-way street.

When you can call a person and ask for advice, consultation, for his/her professional opinion in a for you important matter – if you can discuss everything in the strictest confidence – and knowing that this person is giving you his/her best try to help – what else is this person than a Trusted Advisor. And then, some other day this person calls you for advice and help. Now you are his/her Trusted Advisor. So, it is a two-way street. 

Neither is this relationship restricted only to the Search Consultant and the Client. As Research Manager, I paid much attention to developing good personal, trustworthy relationships with business executives. Many, over time, turned into Trusted Advisor relationships. It is impossible to overstate the importance and value of the advice, guidance, information, help and inspiration I got from these relationships.

Which top executive would not like to have a top search professional as his/hers Trusted Advisor, whom to call to consult and ask for advice in a career change situation? So, here too it was a two-way street. When it was my phone ringing, I tried to do my best in return.

To answer my question in the second paragraph above: At best, AI might give us more time to focus on these relationships. However, focus too much on AI, and the opposite may happen. So, in Senior Executive Management Executive Search, if I am forced to choose, I rather put my money on Trusted Advisor relationship management than trade it to AI.  

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