Technically, I’m not short. I’m average, but I’m shorter than my husband, my two daughters, niece, nephew, both grandsons, and I’m sure, I will be shorter than my great-niece and -nephew in a very few years. And in our kitchen, pantry and closet, I’m definitely short. It means I often need help reaching things. A stepstool will work, but it’s usually quicker to ask any of the taller people around me for help.
One of the myths of leadership is that leaders don’t ask for help, that asking for help is a sign of weakness. I’m not sure who really believes that anymore. You don’t have to hold a leadership position for very long to know that you can’t accomplish much on your own. We all need help, no matter what our role is in an organization.
This is true any time, but now more than ever. The challenge, of course, is that everyone could use a little help right now. And good leaders want to lift burdens from the team not add to their burdens. And that’s another reason many people don’t ask for help. We don’t want to be a burden to others and asking for help is often perceived as adding to other people’s workload.
In my experience though, asking someone for help can be seen in a positive light by the person being asked. We might be asking them for help because we recognize their skills or expertise. We might be asking them for help because we trust them and value their work. When we are asking for help from someone who is in a position to grant the request, we are acknowledging their value to us and to our organizations.
Now I can just hear the refrain, ‘the people who do good work, get more’ and often that’s true. It means as leaders we should be thoughtful in our requests for help, but that’s different than not even asking. So, the challenge for each of us is to be willing to ask for help and then to be thoughtful and deliberate when we do. Have you asked for help lately? Should you be asking for help? Something to think about.