How to Ask For Advice

Asking for and actually getting good advice is more of a science than one might think. They way one begins the conversation is important. Keep the tone as positive as possible. Something simple and direct—I’d love you advice—will do the trick.

One should immediately identify the kind of advice they are seeking and after their opening line address the topic in the form of a question. Come to the conversation prepared with questions and specific details. Make sure you clearly define the problem. Stay on topic so you aren’t wasting someone’s time with a wandering conversation.

Additionally, take time to consider who is the right person to ask for advice from. People often go to friends or family members for advice because they are comfortable speaking to them. However, that doesn’t make that person the right one to ask. You need someone with knowledge and experience with whatever it is you are dealing with.

Don’t ask too many people. You can’t follow everyone’s advice and there are diminishing returns with too many opinions to analyze.

Don’t ask for advice if what you are seeking is validation or praise. If one has no intention of seriously considering another’s opinion, don’t waste anyone’s time.

What Focus Means in Leadership

While many already realize that “focus” is a both a quality of leadership and something that good leaders provide to those they lead the traditional definitions of focus–those that make focus seem singular–might not be as useful a definition or a way of going about things as previously thought.

Some believe, in fact, that there are three essential kinds of focus for a leader. These kinds of attention can be grouped into three broad lenses: self-focus; focusing on others; and macro focus (focusing on the world at large).

Creating a triad of awareness will help a good leader foster emotional intelligence by looking inward to help themselves and outward to help others and will help them stay innovative and diverse in their thinking by keeping an eye on the where the world is headed.

Looking in only one of these directions provides little benefit and bucket loads of harm.
When focusing on yourself and looking toward your gut instincts be aware of where your motivations and influences are coming from—a piece of a literature, a parent, a friend, a mentor a historical figure? Examine the source to understand oneself. No man is an island, understanding yourself, your motivations and their possible pitfalls is essential to being a leader.

When looking to others a good leader needs to be able to understand another person’s perspective, to feel what someone else is feeling, and to be able to sense what it is they need. Help them do for themselves what you do for yourself when trying to understand your motivations and influences.

Looking out to the world and trying to anticipate what is coming will allow you and your team members to bring together what you have all found during your self-discovery and apply the best features of the team to try and innovate solutions that will work for a changing world.

Watching What We Say

While it is improbable to think one will go through life without ever offending someone, here are some faux-paus to actively avoid and the reasons why one should avoid them.

Don’t every tell a peer that they “look tired”. The imagery evoked by this comment is not flattering. Tired persons have darkened rings about the eyes, unkempt hair and maybe disheveled clothes. They cannot concentrate and are probably grumpy. If you are concerned about a peer just ask if they are OK. While asking if someone looks tired is usually meant to be helpful, it can often be misunderstood as a slight. Likewise, saying someone has lost a ton of weight implies they were fat to begin with, instead just tell your peer the look good without commenting on their previous appearance.

Sometimes slight rephrasings of comments meant in support of a colleague can totally change the interpreted meaning. If someone ends a romantic relationship, don’t ever tell your peer they were to good for them. This may be misconstrued as meaning the peer has poor taste in romantic partners. “Their loss” implies no criticism.

If you do need to criticize someone—hopefully in a helpful way—don’t ever tell a person that they “always” or “never” do something. In the real-world absolutes aren’t really factual. No person always or never does something. Often or frequently or another synonym implies a habit and habits can be changed where as absolutes feel written in stone.

Hopefully these tips will get you thinking about other common sayings and phrasings that might get misinterpreted.

Some Thoughts on Trust

When it comes to leadership, it is hard to think of something more important than trust. One could be talented, with an impressive CV. One could say the quote unquote “right things” but if one doesn’t have his colleagues trust, they have nothing.

Trust is difficult because it isn’t something one can do. It isn’t a bullet point on a resume. It’s pathos—an emotional connection with your peers. And it has two roots. It requires a strong belief on the part of you peers that you have their best interests in mind. Second, it requires a strong belief that you have the ability and knowledge to act on that vested interest.

So how does one plant the seed that will grow roots and flower with trust? Asking people for their advice and listening to them. People need to be heard. One needs to take an interest in what is important to their peers. This makes people feel they have validation. One must always be genuine. There is no middle ground when it comes to “playing politics.” One either has agendas or they don’t.

This influence is key for any leader, but it can also help anyone who would like to exert positive influence over the peers even if they are not a leader.

Good Leaders Ask for Help

In the American culture we have traditionally viewed great leaders as almost super-human in their strength. But of course, this strength is not often thought of as purely physical. Society has viewed great leaders as emotionally strong to the point of stoicism. Or we might think of it as mental of physical stamina.

Whatever the case may be, all leaders are human, and humans are vulnerable. Good leaders should view showing their vulnerability from time to time, by asking for help, an asset. A good leader should not think in terms of showing any vulnerability as a weakness.
There are two clear reasons why trying to be more than human isn’t a good plan. First, it is unsustainable. Life will eventually find a way to put a weakness, flaw or fault in our path and we will need help to overcome it.

Second, it isn’t good leadership. If we all can agree that leadership is about connection we can agree on this second point. We know that people will only work hard, create and risk for you if they feel connected. How can one create this level of trust by only putting our strengths on display? When the time comes for a leader to face one of their weakness they may come of as dishonest or at worst an outright fraud.

The best thing to remember is that our struggles define us in equal measure as our successes. Being able to be honest about needing help is an essential trait of a great leader.

Leadership is a Practice

It is reasonable to state that the contention about whether leaders are conceived or created has been settled. The fortune spent consistently by organizations on different types of education for leaders is proof enough for the possibility that, while certain leadership abilities might be hereditary, a lot of the stuff needed to be a leader can be learned.

The appropriate response, for most HR offices, has been courses, with a lot of classroom learning. The issue is that the classroom learning gives members information yet not the abilities required to do the things that will make them viable pioneers. Unified to this is an absence of acknowledgment of the significance of propensities to human conduct. It is on the grounds that we are animals of propensity that – notwithstanding when enlivened by courses when we are on them and first come back from them – we once in a while change how we approach our function in the more drawn out term, with the outcome that the association neglects to see the enhancement in business it was anticipating.

It is just by transforming book learning into abilities, that is, making them regular practices in our lives, that an individual can truly change and on account of a real or hopeful leader procure the stuff to be compelling. The essential thought is that giving only a couple of minutes daily to building up these key abilities can change how people carry on thus make them progressive and powerful.