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  • Writer's pictureJaclyn T. Badeau

Pulse Point – The Advice Trap – "Time for a Mindset Reflection”

Sometimes people get excited when hearing someone complain, vent, or not be able to do something and they jump right into advice giving mode; many people love giving advice. Some people’s default management style is also advice giving. But advice giving is not usually the best answer in most situations, the easier path to take sure, but not the best. Sometimes the other person isn’t even looking for advice and other times we don’t take the opportunity to build critical thinking skills in others. In Michael Stanier’s book, “The Advice Trap: Be Humble, Stay Curious, and Change the Way You Lead Forever,” he discusses how saying less and asking more matters.  


The principles within the “The Advice Trap” help you be more coach-like; you already know I loved Stanier’s other book, “The Coaching Habit” (a good book to read right before “The Advice Trap”) which enables these skills as well. In “The Advice Trap,” Stanier states that when you’re more coach-like, research and experience tell us there are two clear outcomes

  • You enable stronger humans. 

  • You enable stronger performance. 


In his bonus materials, he goes on to illustrate the benefits of a curiosity-led culture showing the impact on the individual as a person (e.g., increased courage, confidence, humility, self-awareness, self-sufficiency, resilience, empowerment), the impact on the individual as a performer and on the team (e.g., increased learning, competence, focus, engagement, autonomy, capacity, and influence), and the impact on the organization (e.g., agile capacity, innovation capacity, change capacity, diversity, resilience, engagement). My summary of this is: read the books, challenge your mindset, and practice the techniques to help you become more coach-like! Here are some highlights of his book that stood out to me. 


Stanier discusses the three personas of the Advice Monster – Tell-It, Save-It, and Control-It. Here’s how he sums them up in a couple sentences each: 

  • You must have the answer! If you don’t Tell-It, nothing will get solved and we’ll fail. 

  • You must be responsible for it all! If you don’t Save-It and rescue everyone and everything, we’ll fail. 

  • You must stay in control! If you don’t Control-It and mange it all, we’ll fail.  

Some additional commentary offered in the book: 

  • Tell-It – here to convince you that you were hired to have the answer; if ou don’t have the answer, you’ve failed in your job. Having the answer is the only real way for you to add value, and the only way you’ll be recognized as a success. 

  • Save-It – it’s tactic is to take you aside and explain, earnestly, that if it wasn’t for you holding it all together, everything would fail. Your job is the be fully responsible for every person, every situation, and every outcome. When in doubt, take it on yourself (and when not in doubt, take it on yourself). 

  • Control-It – the most tricksy of the three. It’s a backroom operator, and with a tone of gentle authority will assure you that the only way to succeed is to stay in control at all times. At. All. Times. It convinces you that everything is controllable, so long are you’re in charge. 


You typically have a default monster and for any of the monsters – they are all saying the same thing, Stanier says, “You’re better than the other person.” Shocking? When you really sit back and think about it, it’s true…and also, any way you slice it, the default of advice giving, is not the best path to leading others.  


Stanier reiterates that your job is to stop seeking the solutions and start finding the challenges. Lots of times by jumping in and offering advice, we didn’t really listen to the other person to even discover the challenge they are facing. Stanier says we need to stay curious long enough to allow the other person to create the insight and space to reach the heart of the matter. And of course, no one is perfect and things distract us and make this harder. He discusses six ways that people trip themselves up and fail to uncover the real challenge and how to overcome them: 

  • Twirling – The first thing they tell you is rarely the actual challenge, keep asking questions 

  • Coaching the Ghost – the spotlight needs to go back on the person being coached, not the person not in the room (aka the ghost) 

  • Settling – be courageous, and push back a little 

  • Popcorning – their job is to figure out the challenge. Your job is to help them figure out the challenge. 

  • Big Picturing – move from generalized to specific, from abstract to personal 

  • Yarning - stop the madness and interrupt the long story telling 


Another concept the “The Advice Trap” examines is coaching and feedback. Stanier mentions that coaching and feedback are often grouped in the same category although they are quite distinct. He offers simply,  

  • Coaching is the act of staying curious. 

  • Feedback is when you need to share your point of view. 


These two concepts pair nicely together; Stanier states, feedback is typically better when it becomes part of a coaching conversation. He states that many organizations are rethinking performance management and that one thing certainly works well: the manager being more coach-like as a foundation for what happens. 


And of course, with any skill you are trying to develop, repetition is key and so is getting back to it when you fail. Notice I said when – yes, no one is perfect, and we all will fail. Stanier emphasizes these concepts and notes that when you practice, it’s an opportunity to notice something new about you and your Advice Monster and will allow you to reset, reground, and get ready for the next conversation. He also includes a couple quotes I enjoyed: 

  • We don’t rise to the occasion. We fall to the level of our training.” – “allegedly a US Navy Seal slightly misquoting the Greek poet Archilochus” 

  • “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett  


There are so many gems in “The Advice Trap” and he wraps the book up with talking about being generous, vulnerable, and a student. I hope you’ve found these highlights from the book intriguing and an opportunity to reflect on your style…It starts with challenging our mindset. 


So, my question to you – What is 1 action step you are going to take to tame your Advice Monster? 


BONUS - To assess where you and your organization are in your employee engagement culture journey, download my “Culture Pulse: Employee Engagement Questionnaire” here:  


Are you ready to dig into emotional intelligence, employee engagement, and leadership work? I am a People Success Strategist who uncomplicates leading humans so that we can inspire confidence back into your team. By tapping into their authentic human leadership potential, we create space for innovation and growth.  


We do this through designing and implementing a system that fosters and protects a strong culture where employees are heard and understood from leadership down. In doing so, individual team members can gain confidence to bravely introduce innovative ideas and grow the company.  


If you are ready to get started, please reach out to chat:


I look forward to providing monthly pulse points to help you stay up to date with how the workplace culture scene is evolving. 



About Jaclyn T. Badeau, CPA, CGMA, MBA, EQ Certified 

Jaclyn Badeau is the Founder and President of Badeau Consulting. She specializes in employee engagement initiatives that help companies inspire confidence back into their team for innovation and growth. Jaclyn’s background in cultivating high performing teams, delivering coaching and mentoring, serving as a global business risk advisor, and facilitating internal and external leadership training to a global workforce gives her the unique perspective of what employees need and what works. She is also a multi award recipient and passionate about sharing her expertise and knowledge in volunteer advisory and leadership positions roles for many associations and not-for-profits.  


About Pulse Point 

Pulse Point is a monthly blog to stay up to date with how the workplace culture scene is evolving. 




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