Advice: a conundrum for leaders

Posted on November 12th, 2012 by



The other day at work, I overheard one of the assistant living nurse-aides speaking with a resident. The resident was young; she had suffered not one, but two health issues/accidents that had left her with half of her body paralyzed and little motor control on her other side. The resident was expressing to the nurse how she was having a tough day; she was not looking forward to tomorrow and the following day because it was a struggle just to accomplish even the most basic tasks in her condition, the nurse-aide looked at her and answered, “I know how you feel, I am having a bad day too… but you have to just get beyond it and think positively”.

How many of us have had “I know how you feel, you just need too… ” spoken to us?  How many of us have uttered these same exact words to someone else? We have all heard them, and we all sure have given them, although they often fall onto deaf ears. When you call your mom to complain about the cold you are catching, the lack of sleep you are on, and the fact that your history professor gave you an C on your last paper, are you really calling to hear her tell you to go to bed early, drink more orange juice and study more? In many ways advice is often either misguided as or just plain unwanted, so how, as leaders, do we over come this? How can we give answers, and offer advice that is meaningful and lands on open ears?

Take a second to think about those who you really do listen to, those people’s advice that you don’t just hear, but take in, ponder, and often even utilize. What is this person like? Why do you listen to them? I have found this person to be my sister, the advice I receive from her is not so much a verbal command, but continuous state of passion, intelligence, genuineness and love that she exudes. Her way of being is the advice itself.  This, I think, is the strongest form of advice, this advice is not trite, it is not filled with hot, blown-up words, but it instead is backed by solid actions and overall character. As leaders if we want to be able to give “right” answers that are meaningful to those around us, we must first look at our own character, after all actions do speak louder than words.

The teacher walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.  ~Khalil Gibran




  1. Cindy Lee says:

    I really appreciate that you posted about advice giving and the things we tend to do a lot with ourselves when we give advice. We know these things that we seek advice for but I think a lot of the time we just need to talk it out to someone. and it brings us to the concept of listening. Listening and to truly listen to others.

  2. Dawn Comstock says:

    I love the concept of actions speaking louder than words, and giving advice to others by setting an example. How important to keep in mind as a leader! It’s also interesting to think about those people in our lives who give us advice and how we take that advice. Thanks for the great blog Michelle!

  3. Nicole Smetana says:


    I completely agree with you. So often like you said, we complain and talk about our troubles and we do not want advice or for that person to fix our problems, but we just want to be listened to and understood. I also like how you said about how as leaders to we need to evaluate how we give advice. We can get caught up in going through the motions and saying something simply because it is the appropriate thing to say in that situation, but not have any motivation behind saying it. When we receive the listening and advice we need, it doesn’t always come through with a set of words, but can come through simply that other person’s presence, gestures, or character. As leaders we need to be conscious of how we listen and to give advice that we truly mean and with motivation.