“I want to talk about something that happened to me recently,” my client shared as she started our coaching session. “I’ve always been told about the importance of asking for help as a leader. I didn’t. And I finally see and understand the impact that had on me and my team.”
We had been talking about her tendency to take on all responsibility and not delegate, so I was thrilled, and asked for more context.
“If I’m really honest, deep down, I still really believed that asking for help would make me appear weak or incapable as a leader. But…I was completely overwhelmed, and had to stay at work until midnight every night to meet the deadline. It made me mad at myself because I took it all on. Again.
The big ‘ah-ha’ came when one of my direct reports actually had the courage to confront me. I had promised her that I would let her lead the next big project. I didn’t even remember that conversation because I was so focused on getting it done and not burdening my team.
But I totally get now that by taking it on myself, I took away an opportunity for their career development. And it’s ironic that by me trying to protect my team by doing it all myself, I actually did the opposite.”
Has anything like this ever happened to you?
As a leader, one of your key roles is to guide your team to success. You carry the weight of responsibility on your shoulders, and it’s only natural to default to self-reliance. However, true leadership maturity lies not in doing everything alone, but in recognizing the strength and wisdom in asking for help. It’s not easy, but the impact that it can have on you and the team is huge. So, let’s explore some key steps to develop the leadership maturity to ask for help.
Take a moment to reflect on your tendencies and areas where you may struggle. Consider situations where seeking assistance could have led to better outcomes. By understanding your strengths and limitations, you gain clarity on when and where to ask for help.
Notice your default pattern
Do you sometimes say “yes” before you’ve even thought about it? The next time you’re about to say “yes”, take a step back and ask yourself a few questions. For example: Is it important that I take this on? Is this something that could benefit someone else to take on?
Cultivate trust and open communication
Foster a culture of trust within your team. Encourage open and honest communication where team members feel safe to express their concerns and seek help when needed. In my client’s example, she likely had created a space that allowed for her employee to approach her: that’s psychological safety.
Lead by example
As a leader, your actions speak louder than words. Model the behavior you wish to see in others. Demonstrate your willingness to ask for help by seeking assistance when needed. By showcasing your vulnerability, you create a safe space where team members feel comfortable doing the same.
I invite you to try this process this week and let me know how it goes.
Being a great leader includes incorporating the power of asking for help. And once you do, watch as your leadership and the achievements of your team soar to new heights.
Be sure to also check out the Enneagram Two information here. You might find it useful on your journey toward Leadership Maturity. Even if you aren’t an Enneagram Two type, it’s still helpful to see what you might be able to apply. Part of the type Two path is about learning the power of asking for help, but as many of us non-Two-types can attest to, we could all benefit from this too!
Oh, and if you haven’t already, (and/or don’t know your Enneagram type), please take my free one-minute Enneagram quiz!