Taking Advice: How Leaders Get Good Counsel and Use It Wisely

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Leaders can find plenty of resources explaining how to give advice. But what about how to take advice? According to Dan Ciampa, too many leaders overlook this demand side of advice.

In Taking Advice, Ciampa explains that more outside advisors than ever are offering leaders advice in increasingly costly projects. Yet as advice has become more ubiquitous, leaders have grown less satisfied with it especially when dealing with high-stakes, unfamiliar situations that require assertive action and speed but also wise judgment. Also, leaders too often overlook help from colleagues, board members, subordinates, friends, and spouses.

Good advice bridges the gap between a leader’s vision and realization of that vision. When leaders fail to solicit advice or obtain it from the wrong sources, the leader and his vision suffer. By offering the broadest perspective on advice to date, Ciampa helps you avoid this scenario. He provides a topology of advice (strategic, operational, political, personal) and defines four types of advisors (expert, experienced, sounding board, partner). He also identifies the defining characteristics of effective advice takers illustrating them with a wealth of examples from business, the public sector, and history.

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Editorial Reviews

Financial Executive
...an informal, story-driven feel that is highly accessible to the reader. That, along with some sage arguments, makes Taking Advice a worthy addition to the management bookshelf.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591396680
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 9/5/2006
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 197
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

1 The help paradox 1
2 How good leaders fail as advice takers 13
3 A new framework for advice taking 51
4 Types of advice : strategic, operational, political, and personal 75
5 Kinds of advisers : expert, experienced, sounding-board, and partner 99
6 The art of balance 123
7 Attitudes and behavior of great advice takers 139
8 Listening - the master skill - and other key success factors 159
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2006

    Hands-on counsel about getting the most from good advice.

    Leaders must be accountable for their decisions, but the best leaders do not make the most important decisions alone. The right advice is a key condition for success, however, even the best advice will not be useful if the leader is not adept at using it. In this to-the-point book, author Dan Ciampa provides a unique service: a clear, practical framework for making the most of help from both inside and outside your organization, including selecting the right advisers and shaping a balanced advice network. We highly recommend this groundbreaking book for its usefulness and insights to every leader or aspiring leader...and that¿s advice you can take.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2006

    balanced view of the advise taking and advise giving relationship

    Dan Ciampa is a former CEO and a current advisor to CEOs and Boards. From 1984-1996 he was CEO of Rath & Strong, Inc. Ciampa¿s book is an exploration of what he calls ¿the help paradox:¿ the world is complex and when the stakes are high, leaders can¿t lead without getting advice from specialists. But the value received does not match the costs involved for obtaining that advice. The author looks at both the supply and the demand side of the advice relationship. On the supply side, he finds narrow perspective, lack of experience, potential conflicts between advice giving and selling roles, etc. On the demand side for advice, however, Ciampa argues that ¿executives who want to receive better¿help must become better advice takers. The people who ask for help must articulate better what they need and how to judge whether they are receiving it. They should also become more aware of how their own attitudes and behavior impact their ability to take in and apply advice.¿ It is Ciampa¿s view that few leaders have developed the capabilities necessary to be great advice takers. As a result, finding and utilizing the right advice is too often an expensive hit-or-miss proposition. Skilled advice takers have the following attributes: Deliberate in choosing the help they need. Construct a network of advisers with different perspectives and actively manage this network. Know how to listen without becoming defensive. Involve advisers early in anticipating hindrances. The author discusses his own role as CEO of Rath & Strong and how he created a Balanced Advice Network consisting of an Experienced Practitioner, a Political Advisor, and a Personal Advisor in addition to the legal and accounting advice he was receiving. I found this discussion of value. Ciampa also states that leaders learn in different ways and the selection of advisors should reflect leaders¿ learning style. For example, some leaders learn best by getting involved in concrete experience first and then reflecting on it afterwards. Other leaders prefer observing examples before taking action. Some leaders need to understand the theory behind an action before they take action. A full discussion of learning style is helpful for those who seek advice and those who give it. I found this book of both practical and theoretical value. It can be applied for leaders dealing with their companies and dealing with their own career/financial futures. From a Board of Directors perspective, I think there might be two questions to ask in reviewing CEOs¿ performance for high stakes decisions: Does the CEO go out of the way to solicit different perspectives? Does the CEO use the Board¿s wisdom effectively?

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