I’ve had some amazing guides over the years. In Tanzania, my guide was named Teacher; in Botswana, Rutzi saved my life – more than once. And, in Nepal our guide helped us make it to Everest Base Camp and back safely. However, guides are not reserved to adventure settings.

The view from the mountain we didn’t intend to climb!

The truth is, leaders have guides available in many settings and circumstances. Our teachers, our coaches, consultants, personal trainers and our mentors all serve as guides in our life. I was reminded again this week how important it is to have the right guide.

My wife and I are traveling in Maine and wanted to take a short hike. One of the park rangers told us which trail we should take – the problem: he sent us up a trail to a DIFFERENT mountain than the one we wanted to climb. Thankfully, we had time and energy for the longer, more strenuous hike. As we made our way down the mountain, I knew there was a leadership lesson in all of this.

Here are a few thoughts for your reflection…

Before you select a guide (coach, mentor, etc.) determine your objective. If you want to increase your personal effectiveness, a tennis coach is not what you want. This may seem obvious, but I respond to questions all the time from leaders who want coaching, but can’t tell me why.

Look for a guide with experience. I really don’t want a guide who hasn’t been where I’m trying to go. One of the comforting facts about Teacher was the fact he’d been up Mount Kilimanjaro 350 times before we arrived!

Select a guide who listens well. My wife and I talked about how we ended up on the wrong mountain. The actual facts have been hard to recreate. However, if I had to pinpoint the issue, we had a guide who didn’t listen. After being told twice which mountain we wanted to climb, he gave us a route to a different mountain. You don’t want a guide who doesn’t listen.

When you need a new guide, make the change. Over the course of your leadership career, you’ll find many situations when this will be the case. Perhaps you have a golf coach who helps you break 90 for the first time. Chances are good, you’ll need a different coach if you want to break 70. A guide who can help you summit Kilimanjaro is not the one you need to summit Everest.

Guides add huge value for leaders. They provide perspective, experience and expertise.tweet_bird They are one of the few shortcuts I’ve found in life that actually work – if you have the right ones.[GLS_Shield]

Who are the guides in your life?

Author: Mark Miller

Mark is a business leader, author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. He spends his time helping leaders grow.