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Are You Withholding Wise Counsel?

As we mature as leaders and our teams gain experience, we face the dilemma of deciding how much feedback to offer people who are very good at what they do, or who have earned the right to make their own choices and decisions.

Sometimes, leaders step back. They withhold feedback. Often, they’re waiting to be asked to weigh in. The leader may view this as letting a seasoned team do their thing. But, it can rob that team of the leader’s deep experience and wisdom.

This is as true for parents as it is coaches and organizational leaders. The best leaders know great team members want the insight, but eschew being told what to do. Resolving this dilemma is made easier if we remember to couch our feedback as “advice and counsel” so that, like feedback, it comes from a place of experience and not that of power or hierarchy.

Don’t refrain from suggesting to others what you would do if you were in their place, how you see a problem, or what appears to be salient to you regarding a particular issue. Don’t rob others of your insight. Instead, offer them counsel and tell them clearly that they can accept or reject your views without consequence.

The best leaders hold top performers accountable to outcomes, not the process, or their own exalted viewpoints. Neither do they withhold their wise counsel.

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