5 Ways Leaders Can Give More Than Good Advice

If you're in a position of leadership, you more than likely know how to give good advice. People look up to you not only to model your success but for guidance in navigating their own unique set of circumstances. This provides you the opportunity to give not just good advice but great advice.

The difference between good advice and great advice is subtle, but it makes a world of difference. For those of us in a position of leadership, it takes that extra level of engagement in order to make the jump.

Here's how you can transform the advice you give and make it truly something stand-out and transformational.


5 Ways Leaders Can Give Stellar Advice

1) Don't rely on anecdotes.

Anecdotal advice—that is, referring to your own past experiences in order to draw advice and applications for others—can be enormously beneficial. However, this isn’t always helpful when it comes to actually finding solutions for the problem at hand.

For instance: in business and in investment, we often look to the success of others to model our own success. However, we fail to recognize that the circumstances surrounding the economy, our finances, and our businesses differ so much that trying to model their success isn't a perfect fit. Anecdotes can be inspirational, but as far as being applicable, the circumstances rarely translate in a way that is more helpful than hurtful.

Having something “just like that” happen to you may seem helpful, but as far as it being truly transformational and revolutionary is unlikely.

2) Really listen to the context.

Context is critical when you're trying to dispense advice. When you're listening to someone seeking counsel, you need to seek out as many details as possible. Having a basic framework isn't enough. Truth be told, you probably won't have as many details as you will need to truly step into the shoes of the person seeking your advice. However, gathering as many details as you can is key.  This can provide a contextual narrative that you need in order to give accurate advice that speaks to the real situation at hand, versus a hypothetical or shorthand version of events.

3) Be specific and focused.

It's very simple to turn your advice into generalities and platitudes if you're not careful. After all, this is much easier than speaking into the specifics of someone's circumstances. However, be mindful of people who just want general advice without much aim or goal in mind. There's not much you can offer these people that will be truly helpful or applicable.

If someone comes to you seeking advice but about nothing in particular, answer with questions. Pry out of them the information they really are after: ask about their goals, their problems, and their situation. Few people will come to others out of the blue for no reason. There is likely something going on, but they may have reservations against opening up right off the bat.  

4) Equip them with wisdom, not just knowledge.

Wisdom is more valuable than knowledge. This is giving someone the tools not just to solve a single problem, but equipping them to solve many problems with your advice in many situations and scenarios. It's making sure that your advice is truly applicable, which demands a level of self-examination and self-awareness that not everyone is capable of. Be willing to examine yourself, your experiences, and how they synthesize into life experience.

You want to tell people why they should take action, not just that they should do it. As a leader, you should be able to explain the reasoning and thought behind your advice, displaying that wisdom behind your decision-making.

This is what you want: to equip people not with good feelings, but clear direction and action steps they can take in this singular situation and in more to come.

5) Follow up.

It's easy for us to let our advice end with a single session. It's harder to allow room for follow-up. Most of us, if we're honest, don't want to be bothered with the aftermath of our advice—unless there are flowers and thank you notes or being written into someone's will when it's all said and done. Making room for follow-up conversations, advice, and investment is critical if you want to give more than good advice. This leaves room for further counsel as situations change and develop.

These are just some ways in which you can truly invest in others as a leader. Give advice that is more than good—make it transformational.

What advice truly changed your life? Share your experience in the comments.