How to avoid mistakes by seeking counsel

By Stan Toler

There was a farmer who posted this sign on the pasture fence: Trespassers welcome. Just be sure to cross the field in 9.9 seconds, the bull can make it in ten!

In this fast-moving information age, it’s easy to get left behind. Leaders stay ahead of those charging bulls by staying alert and keeping themselves informed.

Good leaders don’t try to be experts in every area. They know what they know and what they don’t. They understand the limitations of their wisdom and experience, and they fill in the gaps by asking question, seeking counsel, and learning from others.

People who don’t ask for counsel make unnecessary mistakes. Leaders are not bashful about asking for advice, and not skittish about taking it. They cultivate counselors. They work on developing a network of associates who can plug modules of skill and experience into their lives. Here are a few of the places outstanding leaders look for advice.

At home. The best leaders are sensitive to the abilities and experience of their own associates. They seek input from the team and ask questions. They know that there’s no shame in being ignorant, but it’s a crime to be negligent. They freely ask for information from those they know best.

In the media. Leaders are readers. They learn how to pick the meat off print or online article or news item and leave the bones. They know what’s in the news, and they keep up on trade journals. There is always a book on their nightstand, tablet, or smartphone.

At workshops. Continuing education opportunities abound in nearly every field, and the best leaders attend them, keeping current on their business or profession. They know that the price of registration for a good learning opportunity will be more than made up by increased sales, improved efficiency, or an influx of good ideas. They go to learn, and take others with them.

At school. Education is an investment, and leaders put money in the bank of learning. They make the time to complete or continue their formal education. Online, one the weekend, or in traditional programs, they find a way to get that degree.

Are there gaps in your knowledge as a leader? In what areas could you use advice, information, or greater skill?

What will you do to acquire it?


Copyright © 2012 by Stan A. Toler

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