Providing advice to others is a professional privilege.
The best advisors I know give free, frank, and fearless advice. They share their expertise and they add value. They relate to the results being sought. They use expressions like, ‘doing xyz is the wrong strategy.’ ‘Doing abc will take you in the wrong direction.’ ‘If you do this…you’ll discover most people won’t want that’. These advisors let you know the implications of different options.
These advisors are not likely to tell you what you want to hear, but they will tell it to you ‘straight.’ Most likely the best advisors will tell you precisely what you don’t want to hear. Ignore them at your peril.
The three prerequisites for giving, and receiving free, and frank advice are:
1. Actively inviting it
2. Not showing anger or frustration by shouting, cursing or embarrassing the advisor
3. Maintaining respectful peer relationships regardless of positions of authority or power.
I have worked in leadership teams where free, frank and fearless interactions were the espoused guideline, yet the CE or executives were blunt and brutal with one another. These executives thought they were being direct, yet they either raised their voices, seethed in anger, or shut down conversations when others had different perspectives. You can’t have free, frank and fearless in these conditions. It won’t work. While you might take the ensuing silence as acquiescence, recipients are more likely to be holding their thoughts to themselves.
If you are a person in authority and want direct interactions, your part of the deal is twofold. One part is that you convey appreciation genuinely, and the second part is that you accept the process, especially when you don’t like the advice or disagree with it.
Successful advisors thrive in trusted environments. They put their ego in the background. They are unfazed if you decide not to take their advice. They work with people who do.