On your leadership journey, it is important to know the difference between opinion and advice. Neither are inherently bad, neither are inherently good. Advice and opinions are just different and it will serve you well to be able to consciously discern between the two.
Advice is based on someone’s first-hand, learned knowledge, experience, or expertise in a particular subject.
Opinion is based on what someone thinks and not what they know from experience or hard data.
Don’t conflate the two—advice and opinion.
Your leadership journey will be enhanced by your ability to get expert advice and recognize when opinions are important for informing your decision making. Again, they’re just different.
Below is a 3-step checklist I often use to determine if I’m getting good advice—and not just an opinion—when advice is needed:
1. What is your state of mind?
First thing to consider is your own state of mind. You really have to self-evaluate here and be honest with yourself.
I’ll ask myself, am I in too much of an emotional state right now, and not quite ready to take in serious advice even if it is the greatest advice on the planet?
Am I in a state where I’m just looking to vent or talk things out? If so, I need to preference any conversation with that, so I don’t miss any good advice a member of my Kitchen Cabinet may have for me.
Or am I in the space where I am really looking for some direction? Am I actually ready to formulate the end goal and determine next steps?
Most of getting good advice is predicated on your own state of being. Own that first.
2. What is their state of mind?
Can the person I’m talking with speak from experience? Or are they only able to offer an opinion. Advice is not always greater than an opinion. You and I just have to recognize opinion and advice are different.
Great, lets say they can give advice from experience, now, consider the source.
Are they in a good place personally?
Do they recognize if or when they understand enough about the situation to be able to give complete advice?
It’s important to recognize their relationship to you and understand if they have a certain interest in the advice they give to you.
For example, are they on your board? Are they your employee? Do they need something from you?
None of those situatione mean you should avoid advice from those people, just be aware of how those situations can influence the advice they give and if those situations could blur the line between advice and opinion.
3. What is the risk?
When we ask for advice, we’re trying to get the best outcome. However, we should also plan for the worst outcome. Ask your Kitchen Cabinet to help you identify the risks involved. A question I like to ask of my Kitchen Cabinet is, ‘if this doesn’t work out, what are the consequences and what am I risking?’
Getting expert advice and well informed opinions is exactly why you must take a great deal of care and concern to build a powerful, versatile, high-functioning Kitchen Cabinet around you.
For more ideas on how to get the right people in your corner and the most helpful people talking in your ear, get a free copy of my leadership ebook, Who’s In Your Kitchen Cabinet | 10 Ways to Build a Powerful Braintrust.