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Leaders Should Seek and Listen to Advice

Should leaders be looking to ask for advice in the workplace? That is question which has been put to business leaders for generations, and has seen a variety of responses.

A long held stereotype is that senior leaders are often reluctant individuals who rarely look to colleagues for advice out of fear of looking incompetent – as if looking for a second opinion shows weakness or vulnerability.

However according to a study involving 1,500 participants at the Harvard Business School, looking to consult with colleagues should be a priority in business, as taking the right piece of advice might be the difference between success and failure.

Lead researcher Francesca Gino tested interactions between participants seeking advice and those providing it. She found that many people opt out of asking for advice because of “egocentric bias” – which helps reinforces the view that people, in particular leaders in positions of power, refrain from asking for advice out of fear that it would make them look weak.

Professor Alison Wood Brooks, who also helped conduct the study, explained that whilst some people prefer not to seek advice because of “egocentric bias”, sharing information is an important part of any organisation. Seeking advice from others is a vital part of the business process and if you refuse to listen to other people’s views, it is increasingly difficult to keep up to date and maintain your knowledge of workplace affairs.

Gino and Brooks wrote that people who ask others for advice are able to gain valuable business insight. As to hit goals and be successful in business, it is vital that you surround yourself with the best people and utilise them as much as possible. Ultimately workers are employed for a reason, and if you are not seeking to use their talents out of fear of looking weak, then how do you justify that decision as a leader?

Nonetheless, when leaders do look to be positive and ask for advice, it is important that they take advice from a relevant person as asking an individual about a field they do not specialise in is likely to be counterproductive.

Indeed, using the knowledge and experience of others in business is essential to success. Workers are in a job and paid a salary for a reason – they are good at what they do. Therefore, avoiding their knowledge and expertise makes no business sense. Great leaders will always look to utilise their workforce in order to engage them in the economic process and make better informed decisions.

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