For many of us, we were raised to be self-sufficient and not rely on others for our own success. Asking for help is seen as a weakness or lessens your value because you can’t do it alone. However, such thinking creates barriers to growth and relationship building.
The interesting aspect of this challenge is that asking for help is one of the best ways to grow and build strong relationships. Whether you are a leader, business owner or someone part of a team, asking for help can accelerate your success.
We develop empathy for those that we help. It is part of our basic nature, we correlate those that we help or ask for help as part of our community. Empathy is a foundation to building positive relationships.
I have heard a lot of reasons why others are unable or unwilling to ask for help from others. The biggest three reasons are:
Appearing Weak. You do not want others to think you are not a strong leader or individual contributor. Asking for help may demotivate others and for leaders may result in people leaving.
This is a false perception, if you ask for help in a positive way. Asking for the input of others or how they would overcome a challenge actually achieves the opposite. People will see you as a collaborator and someone that asks others to achieve the strongest results.
Vulnerability. You do not want others to see your vulnerabilities that they can use against you. Asking for help exposes your weaknesses.
This is unfortunately true. Some people may find weakness in you asking for help and they may use that against you. That is why it is important to understand who you ask for help and how you ask for it. If you are a leader and have someone like this on your team, that uses weaknesses against others, you must deal with this in a direct and positive way. If you work in an environment that this is acceptable it is time to find another opportunity.
Who to ask. You are unsure who to ask for help and how to ask it.
This is a really great question. The answer is anyone, but with caveats. Asking for help builds relationships, but you also need to know who to ask and how to ask for help. Asking team members, leaders and partners is great for building relationships and getting specific feedback. However, sometimes you need to reach out to a mentor or coach. Asking the right people in the right situations is important.
The greatest benefit to asking for help is building relationships. I use the concept to build relationships for the teams I lead. Here are some questions I ask to help build better teams and stronger working relationships. Some of these questions I ask even if I don’t need help, I use it as a tool.
- How can I be a better leader for you?
- How can I assist you with this project to give you more time to “X”?
- What is something about the team that you would change or that you think we need to change?
- I have a creative block that is preventing me from tweaking this format, what would you do with it to carry it forward?
My goal in asking for help is to solicit feedback, encourage critical thinking and to promote positive dissention. Leaders that actively ask for help and do much less directing what to do build stronger more engaged employees. They secret is to do it with authenticity and incorporate feedback.