“Consigliere” is a familiar word that has been used in literature and movies about the mafia. The term itself means counselor or advisor in Italian but it has become more famously used to refer to one of the bosses in an organized crime family.
The consigliere is the third highest “official” in the Mafia. He is powerful enough to make the decisions if the boss is not available. The only official higher than the consigliere aside from the Boss is the underboss, who is usually related by blood to the boss. The Underboss has more authority than the consigliere in the Mafia.
The consigliere’s role is considered a remnant of medieval practices when nobles would try to give their services to the new monarchs. During medieval times, only the most trusted and wises noblemen can become a consigliere. The role is so important that it is not unusual for the consigliere to continue to be in service to generations of the monarch’s family.
It is not only the Mafia that uses a consigliere. Politicians and other famous personalities will usually hire the services of a consigliere. But given the negative connotation the name has acquired, few would actually call their advisors a “consigliere.” One of the important roles of a political consigliere is to assess the moves of the politician and help him track his career so that he won’t make any tactical mistakes. He also helps in spin control in the event something detrimental to the politician’s career happens.