“Go ahead and tell me the steps you will take to complete this assignment.”
This is the question that NONE of my early supervisors ever asked me on the job. And boy was I relieved that they never asked this question. Why? Because I had no clue! When I was new on the job I was afraid to ask questions or to admit what I did not know. I would dash back to my cubicle and frantically search for the information I needed to complete my new assignment.
If any of my early supervisors had asked me how I was going to do my work, they would have known I needed some assistance. If they had asked me to repeat back to them in my own words what they had just said, they would have known I was in trouble.
What about my responsibility? What about the fact that I could have and should have asked for help and yet I did not. Although I never seriously messed anything up, my inability to ask for help certainly cost the company time and money. Of course I could have been learning much more quickly by asking others for help too. Yet I was so convinced that if I admitted I did not know how to do something I would be in big trouble. Silly me, I let fear call the shots.
The truth is that asking for help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness. It takes courage to ask for help. To ask for help would have been to overcome my fear of looking weak or ignorant or unintelligent. To ask for help would have been to overcome my fear of embarrassment.
A strong leader knows when to ask for help. She does not worry about looking weak or ignorant. She knows that her strengths come not just from within, but from within her team. If she surrounds herself with others who possess expertise that she lacks, she then has a greater pool of skill and knowledge to draw from.
A leader who asks for help becomes an excellent role model for others. It takes more strength to be vulnerable than it does to lead by ego. We could draw others closer to us by admitting that we do not know everything. By requesting help we may become more approachable and instead of rejection, we might experience acceptance. When we are smart enough to recognize that we need help, we prove that we are not ignorant.
So remember, recognize when you need help and know that someone is just waiting for you to ask.
Have you ever asked for help and been glad you did? Or been asked for help and developed a stronger professional relationship?