AR Samson of Business World shares some insights on giving advice to business leaders.
Giving advice often comes with risks of being ignored or engendering resentment on the advisee. It is not always because of insecurity that leaders are averse to receiving unsolicited advice from subordinates or peers, although the lofty ones do not consider anyone in the latter category, not even former classmates.
It is sometimes how the advice is given. It can easily sound like proffered wisdom, intellectual crumbs thrown by a superior intellect deigning to explain the way things work to a novice.
An adviser needs to advice. He moves in the orbit of the planet he is supposed to be influencing. He has to know how to behave appropriately.
- When asked for an opinion, he should pause before replying as quick answers are viewed as shallow and not well thought out.
- Poaching ideas is not possible. It is best to give anecdotes and try to see what ideas strike the leader as interesting.
- It is not good to offer only one option. It is preferable to present an analysis of the situation and implications of certain options.
- If a controversial suggestion needs to be made, test the waters for a reaction and present the possibility as a rumor in the grapevine, somebody else’s suggestion, or something that should not even be considered.
- Never put advice on e-mail. Digital trash-talking resides in the ether and can be fished out by cyber-detectives to nail you later.
Read the full article in BusinessWorld Online.