Believe it or not, we all have a tipping point. A point at which the workload becomes too great. A point where we simply can’t research our way into being an expert on a topic. A point where we have so much on our plate that we’re half-assing our way through life — not delivering 100% on any one task or passion. A point where we need to step out of the weeds and be more strategic.
A point where we need to … ask for help.
Yet, asking for help — particularly among leaders — is often perceived as being weak. But, I think it’s the complete opposite. Strong leaders are focused on the strategic side of the mission. They’re developing team morale and confidence. They’re gaining buy-in for why the company exists. This isn’t a sign of weakness at all.
It’s not at all about being weak. It’s about being vulnerable and relatable and empowering your team members (including yourself) to WANT to help. To feel a sense of achievement and belonging from their ability to dive in and help.
But, there’s a method to the madness. In order to ask for help and successfully gain team member buy-in, there are a few tried and true strategies you have to consider:
#1. Be Specific About What You’re Asking For — The Goals
Many articles and books on this topic suggest that leaders be very specific about what they need help with. It’s important to outline what you’re trying to achieve and what the ultimate goal or “win” really is. The last thing you want to do is send your team members on a mission to nowhere — thus tanking morale.
Do you need a list of vendors who can do 3D tours of your new listing on a certain date? Do you need a game plan for Q4 social media content? Maybe you need someone who’s really amazing at spreadsheets to create something for you to streamline a process.
Whatever it is, give specific direction on what it is you need, why you need it and what the ultimate goal is for the project.
#2. Explain What You’ve Tried and Where You Could Use the Help
From there, great leaders will help their team by acknowledging what they’ve tried and where their personal efforts have fallen short. The last thing you want to do is send your team spinning their wheels in directions you’ve already explored. Believe me, I’ve been to that movie. When you take the time to explain the avenues you’ve already gone down, you give your team the knowledge and information they need to be successful without wasting their valuable time.
#3. Make Sure Team Members Have the Tools to Succeed
And, on that note, be sure you’re giving team members the tools and access they need to succeed. Tools is kinda a no-brainer. If you’re giving your team a task, you want to make sure they have everything at their disposal to achieve the goal.
Access, on the other hand, is sometimes overlooked. Often, our data is siloed in such a way that certain departments or team members may not have access. While you don’t want to set yourself up for a data breach or give too much (or the wrong kind) of information to departments that don’t need it — just ensure that team members have what they need and can effectively contribute to the end goal.
I think it’s important that we rethink the way we perceive others who ask for help and start asking for it more regularly ourselves. There was a study not too long ago that said male leaders who ask for help are perceived as being less competent, whereas that negative assumption was not made of female leaders who asked for help. The presumption is that women are more likely to ask for help. This should change. And asking for help is the first step.
What is the dynamic like in your office? Do you encourage asking for help? How often do YOU ask your team for help? Let’s carry the conversation over to my LinkedIn page … I’d love to hear your thoughts.