Not long ago a family friend just starting his career came to me with a question.
He was looking at two potential job opportunities. One was a part-time position for a company with which he had already interned. The part-time position had no benefits but he knew who his supervisor would be (and liked her) and it was in a segment of his chosen career that he wanted to work in longer term.
The other was a full-time position with full benefits. It was more money and the company is known to treat their people well. But, it was more of an unknown because he didn’t know anyone there and the role was not the part of the profession he thought he wanted to do longer term.
He came to me with a very specific question:
What factors should he consider as he makes this decision?
I’ve thought about this young man and his wisdom many times in the last few days. Specifically, I’ve thought about how he could educate so many education, healthcare, and nonprofit leaders on how to seek advice.
For many leaders the value of seeking advice is so misunderstood that it doesn’t get practiced. Advisory councils are mismanaged. Governing boards are bungled. Volunteer campaign leaders are left feeling ineffectual. All because leaders struggle with seeking advice.
“What if,” many ask, “I don’t want to do what they tell me to do?” Or, with their arrogance not even being recognized, others have asked me, “How can people not in our field provide me with helpful advice?”
If we analyze how this young man approached me, though, we see the ingredients of effective advice seeking.
He set the context of the issue. He gave me the parameters. And then, he asked me a very pointed, thoughtful question.
He didn’t ask me what I would do.
He didn’t ask if I thought his chosen career path was the right one.
He didn’t ask me to make the decision for him.
Instead, he simply said, “Here is the decision I have to make. I value you and your lived experience. I’d love to hear how you might approach this decision.”
Perhaps if we consistently sought advice from our governing boards, our advisory councils, and other key volunteer leadership groups in this thoughtfully specific way, we’d not only gain more insights into how to make important decisions (without giving away our authority to make the decision), we’d also have more volunteers who feel valued.
Postscript: He ended up taking the full-time position. And I am more impressed with him today than I was before our conversation.
This article was originally posted on Jason’s Blog in August 2023. To read more, visit www.jasonmcneal.com.