When I coach people on how to build their own Kitchen Cabinet, I emphasize how important it is to pay it forward—leaders ought to offer to others and create the space to be in another leader’s Kitchen Cabinet.
Advice giving can take all kinds of shapes and sizes. You may give advice to people younger, maybe people older, people inside your industry, and outside your industry.
If someone recognizes you as a leader and values your leadership enough to ask for your advice, you owe it to them, yourself, the mantle of leadership to give good advice AND to give it in the best way.
You may have life changing, paradigm shifting advice that is a value add to the life of a fellow leader. The mark of an effective leader is taking the care and concern to make sure the message doesn’t get muddled in the delivery.
To pay the best advice forward, be aware of the following tendencies of advice givers, so you can overcome these unhelpful tendencies and rise to the occasion:
1. Breaching boundaries
In the giving and taking of advice, we all are more prone to give than to receive. Reconsider giving advice when it isn’t asked of you. I’m not saying don’t ever give unsolicited; just give it more thought. When someone gives you unsolicited advice, how often do you take it?
That’s what I thought.
Have the self-awareness to know when your advice is wanted and when it’s not, because when its not, its lost on deaf ears anyway
Another boundary often crossed is giving advice when you really aren’t qualified to give it. I know its a quick hit to your ego, but needlessly giving baseless advice is a great way to ruin your credibility and tarnish your ability to influence others.
Have the humility to say, (brace yourself, I know this is a hard one) I don’t know. And be prepared to connect them with someone who does know.
Another ugly tendency of your own ego (and of my own ego) is to prematurely define someone else’s problem because you think you see similarities to a challenge you once faced.
Before you talk about your similar situation, stop. And ask basic, probing questions of the person seeking your advice to understand the full depth of their situation and don’t automatically compare it to your life.
More often than not, they’re asking advice about THEIR life, not yours.
3. Lost in translation
Most of the time people don’t really want a sensei who wields advice disguised in Yoda-like phrases. Avoid being vague, glib, or cliche.
Yes, truisms, proverbs, and the gods of the copybook headings are timeless and ever-applicable. But exceptional leaders go the extra mile to help make the truism real in the real-life situation facing the advice seeker.
And don’t make it too complex for people. If you’re giving advice from a particular area of technical expertise, don’t overwhelm them with jargon and acronyms. Don’t talk above or below them. Speak right to them in their time of need.
4. It’s not personal
Accept that the final decision is not yours to make (ahem, even when it is your adult children). Don’t take offense when the person you advise either doesn’t take your advice or pursues a solution that is some sort of hybrid of your advice and feedback from others.
You want to create the space for this person to seek your advice in the future and for you to be a valuable resource and part of their ongoing leadership journey.
We want to surround ourselves with good people and be the people others want to be surrounded with.
For more ideas on how to create your own Kitchen Cabinet and be a valuable member of someone else’s Kitchen Cabinet, download your free copy of my leadership ebook: Who’s In Your Kitchen Cabinet | 10 Ways to Build a Powerful Brain Trust.
P.S. This is part 2 in a 3 part blog series on giving and receiving advice. Read part 1 here; 3 Common Obstacles to Getting Good Advice.