We’ve often heard it said that successful people never reach their goals alone. Logically, we understand and agree with this. Yet emotionally, many of us still find it hard to ask for help. And if we find it difficult, imagine how hard it is for the people we lead to raise their hand when they need support and assistance. You need to make it easier for them to ask for help.
Like you, your direct reports and team members probably struggle with the misguided perception that asking for help will be seen as a sign of weakness, or incompetence. So they suffer in silence. Studies by the Stanford Graduate School of Business also show that people generally underestimate the willingness of others to help. Not surprisingly, this further reduces any desire to send a smoke signal up.
With complexity and change on the rise, leaders are struggling to keep up with the increasing demands of their roles. Many of the leaders I meet with admit to me privately that quite often they’re just coping. Paddling hard each day just to keep their heads above water to cope with what’s expected of them.
Asking and receiving support is a 2-way street. Yes, as individuals we need to get past our ego and seek out help when we need it. But as managers and leaders of our teams, we also need to do a better job at supporting our people. We need to at least meet them halfway along the road of support.
When was the last time you asked your team how you can be of assistance?
At your next team meeting, wouldn’t it be great if you ask each person what is the biggest challenge he or she is dealing with currently, and how you can best support them in achieving their goals?
This is not about stepping in to do their jobs for them. This is about making it easy to ask you for help when they need it. It is about supporting and empowering your team towards achieving your collective goals.
Through your actions, you would also be leading by example that it is ok to not have all the answers. That it is part of everyone’s leadership journey to be comfortable with the vulnerability of reaching out for support. Repeat this often enough and one brick at a time, you would be slowly dismantling that wall of resistance to ask for help.
There have been numerous studies showing that people who have strong social support and are willing to lean on others for help are more resilient. If you still need convincing that this is a good idea, then building a team that is resilient and works together collectively to solve problems seems like a pretty good incentive to me.