Before we consider why leaders should cultivate the habit of asking for help, let’s start by defining what we are talking about.
We are talking about how important it is for leaders to go outside their inner circle to ask for help in making critical business decisions.
When leaders do that, they reap some remarkable benefits. They open up a flow of new ideas that lead to much better business decisions. Many of those suggestions will come from the people who are living and breathing the business every day.
Why some leaders hesitate to ask for help
The reasons vary. Some of them border on the insane, which can be seen when leaders are so arrogant that they don’t think they need help from anyone. Other instances are less extreme but still serious, such as when leaders simply value help so little that they never take the time to ask.
And then there are cases – and these are perhaps the most troubling of all – when leaders don’t ask for help because they think doing so is a sign of weakness; they don’t want anyone to think that they don’t have all the answers.
The result can actually be the loss of the heart and soul of the company, because no company can or should be run entirely from the top down. If you engage people by asking for help, you benefit not just from their ideas, but from their trust and loyalty.
I have led a number of organizations and I am convinced that people feel validated and appreciated when they are asked for help. I also believe that people typically enjoy giving help, because we all naturally feel good about helping others.
But there are many other benefits too, including these:
- You discover strengths and abilities in other people that you might have missed in the past.
- You cultivate a stronger, braver and more balanced team.
- You enable people to do more of what they do best, which makes them happier on the job, reduces turnover, improves productivity and pays other unexpected benefits.
- You show that you do not think you are perfect, which shows that you are a confident leader, not an arrogant one.
Asking for help builds healthy give and take
After I have asked for help, I often go on to say, “Please feel free to ask me for help if you ever need anything.” Even if I don’t say that, people know they can ask me, because I have established a pattern of being helpful. And I think my efforts have helped build deeper relationships and greater organizational success.
An experiment for you to try
Over the next few days, consciously take time to ask people for more help. Consider their reactions. And over time, evaluate how your relationships with those people have improved.
I’m not suggesting you ask for help just for the sake of asking for help, or just to make people feel good. When you do need help, however, don’t shy away from asking. People will appreciate you more. When you ask people for assistance, you demonstrate that you respect their expertise and effort. That will help create a stronger bond between you and those around you and build a much stronger organization.
Evan Hackel is the creator of the Ingaged Leadership concept, a recognized franchising expert and consultant, professional speaker and author. He is also principal and founder of Ingage Consulting, a consulting firm headquartered in Woburn, Mass., and CEO of Tortal Training, a Charlotte,N.C.-based firm that specializes in developing and implementing interactive training solutions for companies in all sectors. To learn more about Inage Consulting and Hackel’s book "Ingaging Leadership," visit Ingage.net. Follow him on Twitter @ehackel.
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