Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and realized you had done all the talking? Or are you quick to jump to conclusions? One way or another, we have all been there and had a conversation miss the mark because our motives got in the way. 

Unfortunately, we do this far too often because we have unleashed our inner advice monster. As a result, leaders often forget that it is not their role to provide solutions but to uncover the challenges so their team can discover the best way forward.  

I had the opportunity to read Michael Bungay Stanier’s book, The Advice Trap: Be Humble, Stay Curious & Change the Way You Lead Forever and quickly realized how often my advice monster can come out.  Giving advice and pontificating through your perspective of how things should be may not be the best way to approach a conversation. As a coach and leader in your organization, it is important to acknowledge when to step back and show humility. 

You should not only look at your interests but the interests of others. Therefore, you can be helpful without tossing out advice and solving problems. Instead, frame your role to be a coach helping others discover the challenge. 

Tell It. Save It. Control It.  

Bungay Stanier explains there are three personas of Advice Monsters: 

Tell It - the person who has all the answers and needs their voice to be heard. They believe they know best. 

Save It - those who feel they are responsible for everyone, every situation, and every outcome or thing will fail. 

Control It - like to oversee everything and do not share power well.  

Do any of these personas sound like you?  

Think about how these personas can change a conversation. What do you do when you have an employee in front of you that is seeking your advice? Do you "Tell it", "Save it" or "Control" the situation? Remember, you can still help someone without having all the answers. Shift these tendencies into a new habit – stay curious. 

Stay Curious. 

Your role as a coach is to keep the conversation going. The brain constantly wants to find ways to escape, especially when thoughts cannot be expressed into words. If you notice you are not hearing the person’s intentions in the conversation, stay curious and hold back unleashing your advice monster. 

When I first interacted with the Acumen team, I was thrown off with how many questions were asked in discussions. This curiosity led to new discoveries in conversations. We were pushed outside our comfort zones to think more critically – the team was coaching each other, not just giving input. 

Holding someone in a space where they feel safe, valued, and rewarded is a true gift a coach can offer. No matter what direction the person runs off to, keep your curiosity to help them stay focused. Acknowledge them, ask questions and lastly, stay SILENT! This one is tough, so I challenge you to ask yourself... "What is your relationship with silence?"  

Moving Forward in How You Lead 

In the next coaching conversation you have, recognize when your advice monster is about to unleash. Ask questions, listen intently, and stay curious a little longer and see what happens next... 

Share with us on social or in the comments how your next coaching conversation goes! 

Learn more about the ROI of Coaching and how Acumen's model can help the outcome for your business. 

Elizabeth Shandy
Post by Elizabeth Shandy
October 21, 2021
Elizabeth Shandy graduated from Washburn University with a Bachelors in Public Relations. In addition, she received her Masters in Leadership from Grantham University. Her deep passion for leadership came from her role as a peer advisor for nontraditional and military students while studying for her Masters. Elizabeth is the Growth Marketing Specialist enhancing our brand awareness, content management and supporting regional and team marketing. She has several years of marketing experience as well as skillsets in recruiting and advising. Her favorite thing about being part of our marketing team is getting to make a creative impact every day. She has several certificates in digital marketing including social media, graphic design, sales support, and content management. Elizabeth and her husband, Nick, have one daughter and attend Prince of Peace. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring wineries, crafting, playing keyboard, and spending time with her friends and family.