Leaders ask advice. Non-leaders think they lead when giving advice, but they aren’t.

March 13, 2015 by Joshua
in Leadership

Leaders ask advice more than non-leaders. People think the opposite and hold themselves back from improving.

People like giving advice and fancy themselves leaders. They think of leadership as the media mostly portrays, in command-and-control style, hear themselves giving instruction, and think they’re leading.

If they look at their behavior, not what they think of their behavior, they’d see they weren’t leading while giving advice.

How you follow when you give advice

When you give advice, you suggest a new behavior for someone. You’re reacting to their behavior. Reacting to someone else is not leading. Once you give the suggestion, you have to wait for them to act to find out what happens next. They control the pace of the interaction, or if it continues at all.

They also judge your suggestion to decide if they act on it.

How you lead when you ask for advice

When you ask for advice in the style of feedforward, you initiate the interaction, set the tone of the interaction, give the other person their role, which they follow, set the pace of how you follow it up, and, if you ask for accountability, you also give them a long-term role for them to follow.

That sounds like leadership to me.

After the interaction ended, they give you something (advice), you end up a better person, and they feel emotional reward for your leading them. That looks like effective leadership to me!

I find the most effective leaders are constantly learning, getting advice from all sources. Meanwhile, “People who suck at things tell you how awesome they are. People who are awesome at things tell you about the disasters they went through to get their skills.” This pattern fits with the dynamic of who leads when getting advice.

As for giving unsolicited advice, “Giving unsolicited advice generally backfires. Here are alternatives.

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