Great leaders are willing to ask for help from others, and they’ve learned how to do so effectively. Even better, they ask in a way that is inviting and full of choice, rather than telling people what to do. The ability to ask for what you want is directly tied to your success as a leader. It is a key to progress in your leadership and to earn competitive compensation.
However, while your ability to ask for help may be the barometer of your leadership, it’s not always something that comes easily.
Barriers to Asking for Help
It’s common to believe as that as a leader, your responsibility is to know more than your team. You might think it’s your job to always know what they should do and how they should do it. After all, you’re the manager, right?
The truth is that ordering your team around is often a sign of poor leadership. Rather than demonstrating strength, it may reflect a desire for control. Telling others what to do may be driven by fear in a way that is not conscious. Our Break Through Your Barriers Blueprint is a solid resource to help you dig into the sources of this fear. For instance, you can search yourself for hidden beliefs that drive your management habits:
- Would your team not respect you if you didn’t always have the answers?
- Might your subordinates create work that reflects poorly on you if you don’t tell them how to do it?
- Would your boss look down on you if she found out someone else knows more than you?
- Are you afraid that someone will turn you down if you ask for guidance?
Asking for help requires vulnerability. When you ask for what you want, you might be told “no.” Or, the other person might not help in exactly the way that you ask. Worst of all, someone may create judgments about you. It’s important to work through these barriers with support to unleash your leadership potential.
Ask – Don’t Tell
Your tendency might be to demand something like, “I need this report by Friday.” In essence, you’ve decided it’s Friday that you need it – no matter what else the other person has on their schedule. This can be jarring to your team, as it robs them of choice.
Over time, you might have better results if you ask, “This is an important report. Would you be willing to do it? How much time do you need to be able to deliver it?” When you start to ask people who are working as peers, subordinates, clients or even vendors what works best for them, they’re involved in the decision. Inherently, this facilitates buy-in, which increases commitment and ownership.
Giving people choice creates so many benefits. It gives others the ability to think critically about all the things they have going on. They learn to accurately estimate the time it takes to complete assignments. Overall, the people around you become more aware and empowered. When this dynamic shift happens, it drives a thriving team.
If the person’s choice doesn’t work for you, you can continue to ask more questions. For instance, you might ask, “What could I help you with to get it done sooner?” In this scenario, you learn more about your team’s priorities and you can become an advocate for them. In time, this builds communication and trust. Accountability and productivity grow. People learn more, they’re proud of what they’ve accomplished, and they have emotional buy-in.
Leadership is all about knowing what you need to get done and having a strategy to enlist support. Instead of telling others what to do, ask them!
Ask for Help to Create Positive Consequences
Not asking for help hurts. It can lead to resentment as you struggle to carry more responsibility than you can handle. It also harms your projects as it silences authentic communication among team members. Challenges that should be shared openly are instead buried, and tasks run off course.
Even worse, when you don’t ask for help, it tells others that you don’t trust them. You inadvertently train team members to come to you for approval all the time. There’s no space for anyone to make efficient, independent decisions. Overall, team success grinds to a halt – when it should be flourishing and unstoppable.
If you’re someone who wants to be in control of things all the time, you don’t have to go to the wild west where you hand your team a task and walk away. You can check in regularly to mitigate risk, and communicate about why you’re doing that. As a leader, that’s important. Give them an appropriate amount of space, and stay in touch. The process of staying connected can build incredible trust on both sides.
When you ask for help and endow others with responsibility, that creates loyalty. Great leaders effectively create space for some messiness and allow people to help in their own style. As a result, a new energy grows and powers the team more smoothly.
If this is new to you, it’s going to feel uncomfortable at first. This is a big shift for people who move into management after doing their own tasks as individual contributors. It can be even more difficult for established managers who are used to dictating needs to their teams. If you struggle with releasing control, enroll some high quality support to discover a new way of leadership. Our coaching employs the one rule you must follow to develop and integrate new leadership habits.
How to Get Support
You may have grown in a job, career or family where telling people what to do was the way to go. However, it doesn’t seem to be working to get what you want in your current role. You’re getting passed over for promotions and wondering how to break out of a stagnant work experience. If this sounds like your day-to-day, it might be time to enroll some high quality support.
Our Dallas workshop in November is an excellent resource to learn how to confidently ask for help at work. This two-and-a-half hour intensive training will show you how to master soft skills to get more of what you want in life. We’ll show you how to show up as an effective and powerful communicator!
Can’t make it to a workshop? Click here to book your coaching session now.
|Written by Craig Tennant|
Founder, Engaging Breakthroughs
Transformation Architect and Breakthrough Coach
At Engaging Breakthroughs, Craig Tennant delivers