You expect it from the local press and radio. The communication team warned you that a blog might need some vetting of responses before they were posted. The staff survey was bound to attract comments from people who think they know better. Likewise, was there ever a consultation exercise that resulted in a helpful consensus of opinion?

Suddenly everyone is an expert.

‘You can chose to accept or reject advice but if things don’t work out you have to take responsibility’

They say an effective leader knows when to take advice and let’s face it, there is never any shortage of it. So when should you listen and when should you push ahead regardless? Who should you listen to and how should you select your advisers?

As a senior manager you may recognise that the patient is an expert in what care works for them. As a senior manager you recognise that the frontline manager is often in the best position to make a decision. You may acknowledge the expertise and skills of the specialist professional. But you have the bigger picture.

Judged on outcomes

Maybe you turn to a management consultant for some impartial advice – help me understand what’s happening, show me a different way of doing this, tell me how others have tackled this problem. The response never seems that clear cut and invariably involves further work they are happy to carry out, for a very competitive fee.

While everyone thinks they are an expert, those who have genuine expertise rarely describe themselves as such, preferring instead to call themselves specialists. This means they have devoted a lot of time and gained a lot of experience in a very narrow area. The specialist tells you something you didn’t know, gives you some insight and maybe tells you something interesting. But is it useful?

You can chose to accept or reject advice but if things don’t work out you can not turn round and say, “I was just following advice.” As a leader you have to take responsibility. If only we were judged on the quality of thinking behind our decisions rather than the outcomes.