How to Give Guidance Without Giving Answers
The great temptation of leadership is giving answers instead of guidance.
Experience makes answer-giving easy. But there’s an ego factor as well. It feels great to KNOW when others don’t.
At first, giving answers feels powerful, but then you wonder why people beat a path to your door – never mind that they won’t take action without your nod of approval.
Answer-giving creates dependency.
Guidance shows respect, builds confidence, and enables action.
People come to you looking for specific answers. Give them guidance instead.
#1. Guidance provides a panoramic view.
A team member asks, “Which candidate should we hire?” Guidance asks, “What types of people best meet the future needs of your team?”
A friend asks, “Should I take this new job?” Guidance asks:
- “What do you want to be doing five years from now?”
- “What types of jobs are most fulfilling?”
- “What are you doing when you add the most value to others?”
Follow the above exploration with, “How does this opportunity take you where you want to go?”
#2. Guidance enables thinking.
YOU do the thinking when YOU give the answer.
Provide the panoramic view. Expect others to make specific application.
- “What big ideas seem most relevant to this situation?”
- “Now that you have some broad principles to consider, what’s your next step?”
#3. Guidance clarifies responsibility.
“Just tell me what to do,” is an attempt at giving you ownership.
Instead of giving answers, ask:
- “What’s keeping you from making this decision?”
- “What do you need from me that enables YOU to make a decision?
Provide answers when:
- Others are new or untrained. In this case, send them to team members.
- It’s a one-time situation.
- The house is on fire.
- You expect things done YOUR way.
Guidance enables growth.
How might leaders give fewer answers and provide more guidance?
When is it better to give answers instead of guidance?