For many of the people I coach, the idea of asking for help is equated with weakness, dependency or lack of certainty about what they’re doing. Many believe that asking for help is an admission of failure or a capitulation to the fact that we aren’t good enough, smart enough, or deficient in some manner. Because of these beliefs, we try to do everything ourselves.
The truth is, we never do anything on our own. Moreover, as leaders, we shouldn’t want to.
So why do so many of us find it so difficult to ask for help? In large part, it comes down to some basic assumptions that many of us take for granted.
· Asking for help is weak. I should be able to figure this out on my own.
· I’ll lose control of the situation if I ask for help.
· If I ask for help, I’ll be burdening others with my problems.
· It’ll just be easier if I do it myself. “If you want something done right…”
These are just some of the stories we tell ourselves about the implications of asking for help. No wonder so few of us are putting our hands up and admitting we need assistance!
Working with hundreds of teams both in Australia and the US, I’ve learned that none of these common assumptions about asking for help hold up to scrutiny. Instead, my experience and the evidence have proven that each of us is more powerful and effective when we work together. When we co-create, we produce better outcomes, are more innovative and come up with better solutions in a shorter time. In almost every situation, getting help beats doing it yourself.
Here are just a few reasons this is true:
· With help, we’re able to maintain focus on our contribution, instead of worrying about how we’re going to tackle a problem ourselves.
· Asking for help allows others to contribute their talents and gives everyone a clearer picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the team.
· When you ask for help, you have to trust someone else. When you trust someone, they begin to trust you.
· People relate to those willing to be vulnerable by asking for help. That’s because none of us is perfect – it’s just that some of us aren’t as willing to admit it.
Great strength lies in asking others for assistance. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable in this way makes you more human, not weak.