This follows on from last week’s article – you can discover the first 3 reasons that leadership coaches shouldn’t give advice here. And just like in that article, I’m using the term ‘learner’ rather than the more traditional – but misleading – ‘coachee’.
Let’s get straight into the rest of those reasons not to give advice to your clients!
Reason #4: The advice that works for you might not work for them
Let’s assume for a moment that you did have perfect, accurate knowledge of their situation. Then you could give the correct advice, right?
Wrong – because what you would do in their place might not suit their personality, or they might not have the qualities and skills needed to put that advice into practice. The ideal course of action for you might not be ideal for them.
Reason #5: By telling them what to do, you are robbing them of an opportunity to develop
Even if by some chance you were to provide the exact advice that works best for someone with the learner’s personality and skills in that situation, there’s still a downside.
If you just drop the solution that they would have arrived at eventually in their lap fully-formed, you are depriving them of the chance to develop their problem-solving and decision-making skills. They won’t grow as a person, and they’ll be no better prepared for the next challenge that comes along.
Reason #6: Advice can also be disempowering in the moment
Leaving aside the long-term consequences for the learner’s development, giving advice may also be counterproductive during the coaching session.
Remember how you felt when someone gave you advice that didn’t feel right. Maybe you felt like the advice-giver was talking down to you, or even telling you off. Maybe your instant response was ‘Yes, but…’ as you automatically looked for reasons why the advice wouldn’t work.
Reason #7: Advising your coaching clients breeds dependency
Every time you solve a problem for a learner, you’re training them – just like you would train a dog through behavioural reinforcement – to come to you for solutions rather than coming up with their own solutions.
It’s clear how reinforcing dependency in this way is bad for the learner. If you’re a manager, enouraging dependency like this is also bad for you – you’ll have an endless queue of employees outside your office coming to you with problems they want you to solve, and leaving you little time to do your actual job.
For the independent coach, it’s a little different. Encouraging dependency is a great business model, at least in the short term – all that repeat business! So if we’re tempted to give advice, we need to remind ourselves that in the long term, it’s not doing our coaching clients any favours.
If you liked the ideas in this article, they are very much rooted in Appreciative Inquiry. If you’d like to get started using this approach with teams and small groups – or in one-to-one coaching – consider joining the Practical Appreciative Inquiry training starting on January 22nd. Or get the Practical Appreciative Inquiry book – you can order it from Amazon, or get a signed copy direct from me! (ebook version also available)