When you think “who,” focus on three things: understanding, experience and expertise. Understanding means the person you consult for advice is personally familiar with your challenge and can provide suggestions within that context. Even the best advisors are limited if they don’t truly understand what you are dealing with. Experience is proof of ability. Entrepreneurs often turn to successful entrepreneurs for advice because those individuals have learned ﬁrsthand what does and doesn’t work. Expertise is a combination of experience, study and insight. An expert can give you ideas based on their area of focus, whether or not they’ve experienced what you’re facing. Of course, the best advice comes from those who possess all three qualities.
Two cautions: First, beware of the faux expert who has lots of ideas but is short on real-world experience. Second, good advice is usually delivered after some deliberation. A quick, off-the-cuff response may not offer the depth of insight you need.
3. Ask more and better questions
Inquire more deeply to truly unearth important ideas. When you improve the quality and quantity of questions you ask, you increase the potentially valuable information you receive. Don’t just ask an expert for their opinion. Dig deeper: ask them why they feel that way, whether they’ve counseled others with a similar situation, and what happened as a result.
4. Do something, even if it is wrong
The one good thing about wrong decisions is that they normally provide valuable feedback very quickly. When you know what doesn’t work, you can get on to the next possible solution.
Sometimes a timely response requires doing something, even if you know it isn’t the perfect solution. For example, responding to a customer’s crisis — or even a simple complaint — should be thoughtfully considered, but an imperfect response quickly taken is better than a perfect response that comes too late.
Leading your team into the future is never risk free, but there is consolation in knowing there are some smart things you can do, even when you don’t know what to do. And, of course, there are beneﬁts to simply admitting that you’re human.
Mark Sanborn, an international bestselling author and noted authority on leadership, service and extraordinary performance. Mark is an adjunct professor at the University of Memphis. He is featured by Crestcom in DVD based training taught in 90 counties. To purchase Mark’s newest book “The Potential Principle” click “HERE!” His list of 2400 clients include Harley Davidson, Costco, Cisco, ESPN, First Data and In & Out Burger. You can connect with Mark @ MarkSanborn.com