Advice giving doesn’t work as well as a question led process. At first it would seem the best way to get someone up to speed. You already learned the lesson the hard way. Just tell them! Well, there are some problems with this reasoning. For starters, your clients, or people don’t have our personality, resources or conditions that you had. Even if similar, they are not you. This question led process that leads to self generated insight is called coaching. Coaching is a tool you can pull out of your leadership quiver any time people development is a goal.
The coach manages the conversation by curiosity and questions. Even when the coach is in a place to give advice, ask the client to repeat what they heard. This way you can be sure they got what you intended. Even though they have a coach that is 100% with them, the client needs to be 100% responsible for their own success too. Without taking responsibility for themselves, they may just do what they think you want them to do. This is a misuse of the trust that they have in their coach. If the client feels they are just doing what their “smarter and more able” coach is telling them to do, it will either leave the client weaker or a victim. The client will be weaker if the advice works, because they didn’t go through the process of self-discovery themselves. This leaves them needing to back to the advice giver for even more advice. They are now dependent to the one with the answers, weakened in their belief in their own ability. The other outcome is not helpful either. If the well-intended advice given to the client does not work, can you guess who is blamed? Yes, the advice giver. “You said to do this and now everything is even worse!”
Better scenario is to hold the one you are helping as able. Able, as in you believe that they are capable of becoming who they need to become and doing what they need to do to have the results they are committed to have. The belief that you have that they are able allows you to ask more of them then you would have if believed they were incompetent. People often step up when you treat them like they can handle a challenge. It’s like when a little kid falls and scrapes their knee. If you rush up frantically screaming, “Are you ok! Oh no!” they will mostly likely start to cry, even if they hadn’t planned on it. They will respond to the seriousness you are making it. Or you can be calm and congratulate them on such a great fall and smile. This encourages a completely different reaction from them.
Hold the people you work with as able by a question-based approach that has a bias to action. If you get them to do any action that moves them toward their committed goals, you are equipping them to take responsibility for their own success. In the context of developing leaders, any time you do for someone else what they could have done for themselves you weaken them. You strengthen by helping them get specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely (SMART) goals and then taking responsibility to act into that goal every day. Telling them what to do is only a quick fix.