Far too many people think that asking for help is a sign of failure or weakness. In fact the opposite is true. If you don’t know something and waste your time trying to find out, or worse still make an expensive mistake, no-one benefits least of all you! Effective leaders, managers and team members know what they don’t know and proactively seek help to build their knowledge and capability.
Most people seem happy to offer help when someone asks for it, but are shy or embarrassed to ask for help themselves. Rather than asking, they try to work out the answer, even when it’s clear that it is not possible; or hide and not tell anyone they’re wrestling with something; or just hope it goes away. By asking for information or help, rather than wasting time and energy trying to solve the problem, you move forward and the energy that was being wasted wondering and struggling can be used for positive purposes.
This will make you a better leader and will also show those under you that it’s OK to ask for help. Demonstrating to your team that you ask for help when needed encourages them to do the same and frees up communication, energy and the flow of information in a positive way. It seems obvious, but it won’t happen without a push in the right direction.
Things you can do:
- First, stop talking to yourself and decide that you are going to talk to someone else.
- Decide who that will be.
- Craft the conversation. Write down not only what you are going to ask them, but how you hope they will respond. The art of asking effective questions is outlined in our White Paper: Active Listening & Effective Questions
- Schedule a meeting and promise you will ask them for help.
- Tell someone of your intentions; someone who will hold you to account for having the meeting and asking for help.
Then be pleasantly surprised; most people are honoured to be asked to assist friends and colleagues – by asking for help you are showing them you respect their knowledge and abilities.