Exposing god-like Advisers
There’s a long line of individuals who tell you how to lead. Nearly all do the same thing. They tell you how they would do it. But, they aren’t you.
Arrogant advisers believe they are gods shaping people into their image, whether they admit it or not.
Many have given me advice, over the years. Nearly all told me how to improve by becoming more like them; its arrogance, perhaps unintentional, but arrogance none the less.
Additionally, I’ve watched older leaders advising young leaders. I’ve seen them puff up because advice-giving is heady for those molding the world into their image. It affirms their god complex. It’s disgusting.
I can count on one hand the number of humble advisers I’ve been privileged to learn from.
Humble advisers help mold you into your best self, not theirs.
One of my trusted advisers offered me some unrequested feedback yesterday. It was about the use of video in a presentation. I’d changed a technique and he noticed it right away. It was useful, not because he wants me to be like him, but because he knows and accepts who I want to be.
6 components of humble advice:
- Explore your advisee’s person, intentions and goals. Arrogant advisers believe they know when they don’t.
- Uncover gaps between intention and behavior. Powerful feedback begins with, “It looks like you’re trying to accomplish (insert goal) when you (insert behavior).”
- Dig into attitudes and behaviors that hinder progress. “What isn’t working?”
- Ask, “What would your best self, do?”
- Apply strengths. “How can your strengths, passions, and skills more fully align with your intentions?”
- Throw yourself into the mix. “Have you thought about (insert behavior)?”
What type of adviser best helps you?
What type of adviser do you want to be?
Well back to the brilliance of the 12 Step Philosophy.
Wonder if anyone ever reading what I am talking about is actually do themselves a favor and look generically into what I am talking about?
In AA when we 12 Step someone it is suggested we just tell them what happened to us, our experience. We tell them what it was like, what happened and what it is like now. Nothing else.
Doing this makes it less likely people are going to be defensive. Goes back to the wisdom of hoping to teach people how to think, not the astounding arrogance of teaching them what to think.
Anyway worked for millions upon millions and will continue. The neat part is it does not matter what the supposed issue is, the solution is a set of suggested steps that will help with the issue.
My opinion, the AA Big Book is the greatest book on human relations ever written. Now the dealio is before anyone offers an opinion I suggest reading it. The first 164 pages are nothing more than what the first 100 drunks did to begin recovering from their terminal disease. Nothing else.
The only time alcohol is mentioned is once in the first step. That is why the solution is so easily adapted to other problems. Just insert your issue in place of alcohol in the first step and you are on your way.
Leave off again with my favorite quote and if course in the AA Book.
“There is a principle that is proof against all arguments that is bound to keep a man in everlasting ignorance… That principle is contempt prior to investigation”. Herbert Spencer
Helped me in every area of my life going on 29 years and might benefit you too if you do not have contempt prior to investigation and think you know what that gets ya.
SP Out. ps my opinion… You have to be a good human being before you can be a good leader.
Thank you Scott.
Love the way you bring your life to the conversation.
Your PS reminded me that leadership is about how to be not how to do. Francis Hesselbein
Excellent – again! Indeed Wisdom reminds us to seek counsel, but to do so from the wise and not from the fool.
Notice that 4 of the 5 points above are questions from the Advisor to the Advisee – good process begets good results.
Thank You Sir!
Thank you ServantSon.
Love the idea that “good process begets good results” powerful, clear, and concise.
So true! The problem is that arrogant leaders don’t believe they’re arrogant. They are so confidant in their methods that they don’t even consider that the people they’re mentoring might need to do something in a way that works for them!
I worked for a person who used to frequently use the phrase, “We’re not having that conversation” and we soon learned that meant he didn’t even want to consider another idea so don’t bother mentioning it! Left him pretty quickly!
Thank you Janice.
You bring up the most troubling thing about arrogance. I wonder if arrogance is so pervasive that if we think we don’t have it…we should realize we do.
This should be a call to wake up and smell the motives: is my mentor/boss really helping to raise me up to be a leader, or just trying to clone another follower. A person’s hidden values tend to show up in times of adversity (such as mentoring and speaking into a person’s life) and guide behaviors, so if image is more important than influence, what you’ve described can be a common outcome. One should not overlook the reality (positive and negative) of our surroundings so that we can deal with them with eyes open.
Interesting, my iPad managed to post my comment and forgot I was logged in.
Thank you Anonymous Jim… 🙂
“Smell the motives.” I’m generally all about focusing on behaviors but motives mean so much in this context. Always appreciate your insights.
PS… maybe you lost yourself for a moment??
A truly excellent post. I have always thought about such practices and people doing such practices. I agree with you about arrogant and humble advisers. Arrogant advisers mislead whereas humble advisers lead to the realities. Arrogant leaders are professional advisers and humble leaders are not professional. I strongly believe that all those who teach people about “God” mislead in some way. They create division between people. They make system that is orthodox, rigid and above people. Such system actually hinder the element of realities of lives. I support those who teach us about realities of lives and human beings.
I believe our work is true worship and we do not need any imaginary figure to realize as a God. In fact we need to imagine our work as a God. And advisers who teach us that work is worship are best advisers. And I want to this kind of adviser.
One important thing we need to keep in mind about advisers. We should see their journey, achievement and contribution towards society and people. We should be even more curious to know their contribution towards underprivileged and suppressed section of society. This will surely open their hidden intention and belief about God.
However, real things will come in its real shape when we keep our mind beyond customs, stereotypes, prejudice and believe that there is only one religion that is ‘Human”. And there is only one god that ” Work”.
Thank you Ajay.
Powerful challenge about being professional and it’s connection to arrogance. I take from your comment that we should be authentic rather than putting on a “professional” demeanor.
Very similar philosophies wrt Tony Alessandra’s Platinum Rule and my Diamond Rule…good post!
Thank you Bob!
Excellent advice for parenting as well, thanks Dan!
Thank you Robyn.
Parenting is leading. I always appreciate it when people apply these posts to other contexts.
Thx 4 the offer
Sent from my iPod
The key distinction here, for me, is that if you are “telling” people how they should do something, then you are not “advising” them — you aren’t giving them advice or suggestions or examples (other than giving them the single example of the way you would do it).
Thank you Scott.
Very useful distinction. I find some situations require telling. But the adviser context calls for control.
Wonderful post. Helping someone be his best and not like us is more powerful. Is there any resource where I can find this way of helping unpacked? I am taking a course on coaching and this sounds like it. Thanks. Younoussa
Thank you Younoussa.
Glad you noticed the coaching connection. My coach, Bob Hancox, wrote a book: “Coaching for Engagement” that I like.
I suspect it is less a case of arrogance than simply not knowing how to lead except by having followers in their footsteps. Those that learn how will eventually snatch the coin from the master’s hand.
Thank you Steve.
You may well be right. Speaking for me, arrogance is in my heart. Arrogance is more natural for me than humility. But that’s just me.
However, I really like your point that some leader-advisers haven’t learned an other’s centered approach to giving advise. Good point.
Great post, Dan!
Whenever someone leads off a sentence with, “You should…,” it is a giant red flag. Regardless of intention, it comes across as presumptive arrogance that immediately divides, often breaks down trust, and usually inhibits openness, which is critical for learning and change. As you correctly point out, it comes across as a god-complex, made even worse when someone actually does it in God’s name.
The best leaders are the ones who lead by example with a spirit of humility, seeking understanding first, before offering prescriptive solutions.
Thank you heartpath.
That last sentence is a mouthful, filled with insight and challenge for all current or aspiring leaders. Reading makes my leadership-knees buckle.
Wonderful post Dan. Reminds me of one of my favorite coaches (didn’t start out that way!!:) who would not give me advice but would rather ask questions,putting it back on me to think through. Frustrating at first, but over time,I came to appreciate and respect his methodology. I do belive it made me a much stronger leader.
Thank you Don.
I’ve seen the frustration you mention. I still wonder sometimes about when to add my two cents or to continue using the Socratic method.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
Have to add my perspective here, My Company leadership and my Mentor/Leaders, have often been different people. The latter, I CHOOSE to follow.
Contrary to your points I suppose, I choose my mentors because I want to be “like ” them. They perform or live in a manner I find worth imitating..
The greatest coaching I have ever received came with a “Watch me” instruction attached . I would rather follow a leader who can lead by example and train with the purpose of teaching me to do things in a proven manner.
However, To your point, I almost never respond to a “self imposed” mentor. Someone who sees the need to take me under his wing and mold me in his image with out my invitation
Thank you Donnie.
I’m glad you added this dimension to the conversation. There’s often another side to these posts and you pointed out an important one.
I’ll find myself split over “Leadership Freak’s” thinking. He comes across a bit judgmental, himself. Advisors have credibility based on their experience. Referrals and great references keep them in business. So, maybe two schools: those that teach by their own example, and those that guide with tools, almost like a consulting services company. Sequential questions designed to take an advisee down a path is a form of tool, in this case. I’ll take the position that it comes down to the experience and flexibility of the advisor and if they use a different process based on the unique needs of their client.