Oops! I Did it Again, How to Avoid Bad Counsel

In my recent post, You Aren’t Smart Enough, I shared a list of counselor types a leader should surround themselves with in order to make great decisions. As important as good counsel is, it is just as important, perhaps more-so, to know how to avoid bad counsel. 

Below are a list of bad counselor types that I tend to be very cautious around. Listening to these types of people when trying to make a decision will keep you thinking to yourself, “Oops! I did it again“. “Did he just reference a Britney Spears song?”, you ask. Oh, baby, baby, not on purpose. She does come to mind, though, when I think of bad decision-making.

Leadership Truth

Good leaders avoid bad counsel.

Counselors Types to Avoid

  • Reputation Murderers – Too harsh?  These are people who will “throw someone under the bus”.  When something is going wrong, these people are the first to point out someone else’s faults.
  • Know-it-alls – Ironically, these people don’t know what they don’t know, and they don’t care.  They look a lot like a “bull in a china shop”. They don’t ask questions, and they provide more chaos than value.
  • Title Chasers a.k.a. “Peacocks” – People who try to position themselves over the authority of someone else, are almost always in it for themselves.  They typically flatter authority figures while flaunting all of their own virtues.
  • Lazy Bones – people who don’t work hard. They spend more time at the water cooler than they do at their desk.  Half of their morning is spent making rounds talking to people about things that are not work-related. These people are sometimes successful if they are lucky
  • B-negatives – you wouldn’t take marriage advice from someone who refers to their spouse as “the ol’ ball and chain”.  Don’t take advice from someone who doesn’t like the people, the work, or the organization they are a part of.
  • Proud people – these are people who will gladly acknowledge people with the same or higher titles, but won’t talk to the average joe if they run into them at the grocery store.  Proud people cause conflict.  I’ll talk about that in an upcoming blog.
  • Over-delegators – these are people who won’t do the work themselves.  They are constantly looking for someone else they can hand the work off too, and then try to pass it off as delegation.  Don’t get me wrong here, I am a Director who delegates regularly to members of my team.  I’m talking about people who try to delegate their own work outside of their team, or are clearly trying to hand off the hard work so they themselves can coast.
  • Angry people – If someone regularly uses anger to influence or to manage people, they will eventually use it on you. That’s not a pattern you want to follow. Anger is a good indicator of insecurity, and people make bad decisions when they are insecure.
  • Renters – these are people that won’t own their circumstances or take accountability for their work. These types of people will sit at their desks, waiting for someone to notice and give to give them something to do. Not to be confused with Lazy Bones. Lazy Bones don’t do the things they know they should. Regardless, they are definitely homeboyz.
  • Victims – They know there is a problem. They could do something about it.
    • Pointers: they point at the problem, and tell others to fix it. (and yes, I subcategorized Victims…)
    • Ostriches: they avoid the problem in hopes that someone else will see it and fix it.
    • Teenagers: they talk about how bad the problem is for them, and they try to convince people that they deserve better.
  • Courteous Listeners – These people will ask you for your opinion, as a courtesy, but everytime they follow their original plan. “Thank-you, but” is a go-to phrase for them.
  • The Untoward – People who are unkind, inconsiderate, womanizers, class-less, crass, vulgar, criminals, and generally, those lacking manners.

By the way, all of the above folk are related. There are a lot of overlapping attributes, and the family reunions are…special. There are better people in your organization that you can spend your time with. Find them and enjoy their company instead.

How to avoid bad counsel

If you have made a string of bad decisions, you should think about how you are making decisions and consider the counselors you look to for advice. If the people I’ve described above are your go-to people, Staahhpp. Be kind to them. Treat them better than you would want to be treated, but by all means, stop asking them for their advice. They could be toxic to your career. If they come to you for advice, give them wise counsel, but you don’t need to listen to them.

Ephesians 4 teaches that whenever you try to stop doing something, you need to quickly put something else in its place. A way to avoid bad counsel is to quickly find good counsel. By the way, some of the descriptions above might be a description of you. Don’t hold it against me. Recognize it, acknowledge it, and then work at it.

Reach out to someone who you think might care about your success, and have a very open and candid conversation. That might include apologizing to them first. It’s difficult for me, as I’m sure it is for others, to take people seriously and genuinely, when they have consistently displayed the above behaviors over an extended period of time. Ask them for clear, quick, and candid accountability, and then accept their input when they oblige.

This is one of many articles in my Finding Leadership Series. To learn more, go to “Finding Leadership – An Introduction to the Series” or click on the series introduction in the sidebar.

2 thoughts on “Oops! I Did it Again, How to Avoid Bad Counsel

  • Josh,
    I found that this post one was a difficult read for me. Not that it did not provide the right words or content rather; while I was reading through I was able to see some of the characteristics being pointed out in some of the things that I do. I am sure that there are few to escape any of the above however reading and doing an inventory makes one think differently. I hope that all who take the opportunity to read through this and some of the other posts will not only recognize however apply what the recognize and be better for those who either lead or inspire to lead. Thanks again for another actionable post.

  • Thanks for sharing, Paul. Some of the items I mention are things I’m working on as well. 🙂 Can you think of any that are missing?

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