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Who Do You Listen to

Leadership and seeking professional advice

We all seek advice from time to time, but we are often as disappointed as we are satisfied with the advice we get.  Sometimes it is a matter of the blind leading the blind as the old saying goes, and sometimes we find we actually gain some real nuggets of wisdom.  So what is the difference and when do you know that you are getting help instead of more confusion regarding your situation?

There are as many ways that you can be helped by others as there are ways that you can be hurt.  Of course we could reverse that statement and focus on the ways you can be hurt.  But instead let’s look at the important elements needed in seeking help.  One of the frustrating things I often see is the person who asks everyone for their opinion.  This can be dangerous for a number of reasons.  The biggest problem with asking too many people is that most of them will not be qualified to give you sound advice.  Part of this “disqualification” is that they most likely don’t have all the facts, or they don’t have the necessary experience in the area, or they don’t have the time and attention to put into helping you with your questions.  Part of not having the experience is that these individuals may be very fixed into their way of doing or thinking about something and quite frankly either can’t or won’t look at the big picture.

Unless you are dealing with a professional in the area, it is rare to find someone who will have the necessary time or energy to put into helping you solve your problems.  As a result you will more likely get an offhand answer or opinion.  That is not to say that the advisor is trying to hurt you, most likely they aren’t, but keep in mind that you could have come up with the same answer yourself.

When it comes to getting professional advice, it is critical that you let your adviser know all the facts of the situation; otherwise even the professional might lead you astray.  Of course, anyone who is a real professional should strive to get all the relevant data before giving their opinion.  Unfortunately I have seen too many cases of that not happening.  What I often see is the advisor looking only at one aspect of the total picture.

Recently a client told me about a prospect deciding not to use his services because the prospect’s financial advisor said to go with the “low bidder”.  As we all know that is a recipe for disaster and a prime example of not looking at all the facts.

Although it is important that we ultimately make our own decisions, we all recognize that there will be times that we may want to seek outside help.  In doing so, there will often be conflicting opinions, so it will be important that you make sure all the data is available to anyone you consult and that you ultimately make your own decisions.  When it comes to prospective clients seeking advice, the best you can do for them is to ensure that their advisers are also fully informed.