The Internet and the accompanying virtual economy give us more access to more wisdom than ever before in history. Not only can we look up anything at any time, but there are hardly any boundaries, geographic or otherwise, as to who we can hire and consult with.
It’s wonderful to have so much access to advice, but the flip side is that it can become bewildering. When you have advisors who are true experts, it can be extremely difficult to take another path…especially when they seem to agree with each other and not with you.
Yet as a leader, that’s sometimes exactly what you have to do.
Just Because They’re Experts Doesn’t Mean They’re Always Right
When people give advice, be they your employees, paid advisors, or a concerned friend, they tend to frame it in one of a few ways.
They may empathize with your situation, offering slices of their own lives where they found themselves in a similar rut; they may dole out bits of wisdom, hoping to steer you in a particular direction; or they may take a page from therapy and ask, ask, ask – so you can get to the root of your challenge independently.
What you always must keep in mind is that everyone’s advice, no matter how confidently given, is colored by their own perspectives and experiences. What worked for one of your advisors may have worked because it was best suited to their personality type or to the specific details of the situation.
Consider what executive coach Kathy Caprino offers when it comes to weighing (and possibly rejecting) outsiders’ advice. Foremost, you need to consult with your gut. How do you feel about it immediately? Gut reactions are generally a good litmus test for judging a situation.
If that checks out, Caprino says oftentimes advice is bad because the person giving it doesn’t a) understand you, b) understand your values, or c) demonstrate he or she is qualified even to give advice.
Ultimately, Caprino says, you may just want to trust your energy levels. Does the advice strike you in such a way that it overwhelms you? Makes you feel tired or listless? If so, implementing it will probably be several magnitudes harder.
When it comes to make tough concrete decisions, knowing who is nudging you in one direction or another is paramount. Shirking collaboration to maintain a false guise of “leadership” can end up hurting you in the long run.
In reality, the wisdom is simple: Be clear about your vision, goals, and style, and make sure the advice sticks to all three. If it doesn’t, pull up your collar, prepare yourself for headwinds, and don’t follow it.