Bosses turn to spouses for opinions they can trust

Most business leaders turn to their spouses for advice when making tough
decisions at work, a survey reveals.

The research, carried out by Mori for business consultancy Chiumento, found
that 60 per cent of UK board members use their spouses as a sounding board when
facing a difficult challenge at work.

Board directors told researchers they turn first to their spouses because
they feel they can trust them to be discreet, rather than because of any
technical ability or expertise in business strategy.

Indeed, trust (71 per cent) is far more important to business leaders than
objectivity (18 per cent).

Bob Arnold, director of strategic consulting at Chiumento, said: "There
must be some very heavyweight conversations taking place across dinner tables.
The number of executives seeking external advice, even on strategy and finance,
took us by surprise. The message to all those keen to provide advice to
captains of industry is ‘earn their trust first’."

Julia Middleton, founder of Common Purpose, the leadership campaigner, is
typical of respondents.

"As you progress, people tend to start deferring to you too readily.
The advantage of many spouses is that they won’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," she said.

Key findings

– Almost two thirds (63 per cent) of
board members prefer the advice of their spouse or partner to that of another
board member or colleague

– The only source of advice more highly rated than a spouse or
partner is the managing director, chairman or chief executive, cited by 69 per

– External professional advisers are regarded as key sources of
advice by only 20 per cent

– People management issues are the primary reason for seeking
advice, specified by 21 per cent of board members

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