There are times when you need to get help even as a leader. That’s okay. Too often leaders think that they have to stand strong and that asking for assistance is a sign of weakness. Thinking that people will look down on you for getting help is arrogance and could put you at risk of failing. There are times when you just don’t have the skills or the knowledge needed to get something done. Or maybe you just don’t have the time to complete something. These are perfect times to ask for help.
When you have enough self-awareness to realize that you are not Superman or Superwoman and you admit it to your team, they will actually like you more. Superheroes are great, but hard to live with on a daily basis. People want to be needed and superheroes stand on their own or have one trusted aide. In the real world that behavior is self-limiting and goes against team building. Admitting you need some help will make you seem more human and easier to connect with.
Even knowing all of this it can still be hard for a leader to ask for help. I have problems with that issue myself. I have always been very independent and I want to get things done on my own. Early on I had to step up and take care of the house while my dad recovered from heart surgery. This was over 35 years ago, so recovery meant weeks in the hospital and months of bed rest. While my mother focused on taking care of my dad, I took care of everything else to ease her burden. I was in high school and got it all done without too much trouble, however it did instill a habit of self-reliance that even now is hard for me to break. I learned how much I could accomplish when I set my mind to it as well as how to run a house.
Jump ahead 15 years; I learned at work that people found it hard to relate to me because I never showed any weakness. The habit of helping others without asking for help was well ingrained at this point. I was also one of a handful of female engineers in a factory of 2500 employees. I was afraid to show any weakness, that it would undermine the credibility I was slowly building. It turns out I gained more ground by being human and showing that I didn’t have all the answers. I got into an ugly situation with a shop supervisor where I was on the receiving end of his frustration with a situation and my boss. Afterwards my struggle to handle what just got dumped on me earned me significant respect from a co-worker, someone I truly like and respect. Seeing my struggle helped him realize I could be hurt and didn’t always have the answers. He told me that he liked me a lot more after that day. It was an Ah Ha moment for me.
People want to contribute to the team and help reach the team goals. For that to happen they need to really connect with the others on the team. That means the leader as well. We all connect better with people who seem human, have flaws and weaknesses as well as strengths. As a leader, be human, ask people to help when you need it. They will like better you for it.