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Some Advice On Taking Advice (From Leadership Experts)

Some Advice On Taking Advice (From Leadership Experts)

Looking for advice on honing your leadership style, making a career change, stress management, becoming a better manager, dealing with a difficult boss or almost any other career-related topic? Your timing is perfect.

Online publications, as well as the blogs of top of the line career and leadership experts, are chockfull of articles with the latest research, interviews with experts, tales from the field and practical advice.

Just a few clicks of your keyboard and there they are, some online articles that are right on the mark as far as your work-related questions are concerned. They crystallize your issues in a way you never thought possible. They offer legitimate reasons for why you (and so many others) are feeling the way you do, which you find very validating. And, most important to you, they include advice that you find easy to understand and seems fairly simple to put into practice.

[Related: The Best Career Advice Women Are Not Getting]

Are you feeling inspired and ready to put your newfound, seemingly easy strategies into action starting tomorrow? Please Wait! The advice that experts (myself included) give you is never easy or quick to put into action.

Adhering to the advice that leadership development experts give you is doable and will ultimately prove beneficial (or we wouldn’t recommend it), but in most cases it first requires adapting our suggestions to your unique needs and style, and then it takes ample time and energy, trial and error and support and feedback from others.

I am concerned and in turn feel obliged to caution you that even the best and most well-meaning career and leadership experts who use online (and print) media sources to readily dispense free advice to millions of information-seekers don’t underscore enough (or neglect to mention altogether) that taking our advice is not simply a matter of jumping from the virtual page into action.

In our attempt to make our written advice as simple and easy as possible for you to understand, we may inadvertently give the impression that implementing the advice should be just as easy. Our however inadvertent omission could cause you to blame yourself if/when your quick efforts to heed our advice fall short, which completely defeats our goal to be helpful to you.

[Related: The Worst Start-Up Advice I've Gotten]

Advice pertaining to better time management, organizing your job search, setting criteria for new office space and other concrete needs does tend to be relatively easy to put into action. It still requires work and persistence but, if the advice is indeed clear and concrete, then implementing the tasks should be as well. Putting into practice and fully integrating advice regarding changes in behavior, attitude and thought-patterns is a whole different ballgame. Improving your communication and listening skills, better managing conflict at work, building your confidence, dealing with stress, setting clear personal/professional boundaries and other substantive changes takes significant time, emotional energy, perseverance, support and, when possible, some professional coaching.

Moving forward, as I continue to publish my career-related insights, advice and encouragement on readily available online sources, I commit to being clearer in every article I write that while my advice is (hopefully) relayed in the simplest of terms, your efforts to heed my advice will not be so. I will also encourage other experts in the field to do the same.

In the meantime, here is some (hopefully simple to implement) advice on taking advice:

Make the advice your own. Please don’t jump from virtual page into action. It generally never works, and you will miss your opportunity to actually benefit from the great advice you took the time to find. Determine how the advice specifically applies to you, i.e., how it aligns with your professional values, fits with your unique professional persona and supports your professional growth before attempting to implement it.

Don’t get discouraged or doubt yourself when the recommendations that seemed so clear and simple to implement when you read them become vague and feel daunting when you attempt to implement them. This is not a shortcoming in you. It most likely means that the recommendations are too general to be implemented as they are presented and need to be broken down into smaller, more concrete action steps.

[Related: A CEO’s Advice on Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking]

Don’t hesitate to seek guidance, encouragement and feedback from a trusted peer, mentor and/or a professional. Determining how the advice should be adapted for you, and how to translate general recommendations into practical action steps that will work for you is not intuitive for most of us, and there should be absolutely no shame in this. Don’t worry if hiring a professional coach isn’t feasible. Assistance and support and, ideally, ongoing feedback from a professional mentor, or a friend you highly respect, can be invaluable.

Feel free to email the expert whose advice is being dispensed to see if they are willing to break their advice down into more concrete, actionable steps for you. Some people may disagree with me on this point, but I think it is reasonable to hold us - the advice-givers - accountable to making sure our often-general advice can be effectively implemented and is truly helpful.

Don’t ever forget that you will always be a ‘work in progress’, and this is a wonderful thing. We are so fortunate to be a species that has a never-ending capacity to grow, adapt and become an even greater version of ourselves. Continue your commendable efforts to find, shape and apply the great advice that is available.

Any other advice you would offer here? Experiences you’d like to share?

Dara Goldberg, Founder & President of Métier Consulting, positions corporate teams and individual professionals, at all levels of seniority and in all industries, for success by making communication, relationship cultivation and stewardship and leadership their forte.


Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.

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