Business Transformation

4 Reasons Asking for Help Can Make You a More Effective Leader

Many business leaders struggle to seek help from their teams due to fears and insecurities. But being a great leader means asking for help when you don’t have all the answers. Here are a few ways that asking for aid can improve your entire organization.

Most leaders understand the value of helping their colleagues and employees. But those same leaders are often less sure about the benefits of asking for help in return. Many people in leadership roles struggle to ask for assistance when a project is beyond their expertise or availability — even during times when help is absolutely necessary.

Why is it so challenging to ask for help as a leader? The answer boils down to one word: fear.

For some leaders, there’s an underlying fear that asking for help will make them seem unqualified or incapable. Other leaders fear that such a request will be taken as an act of relinquishing control. Asking for help puts you in a vulnerable position, which might lead some leaders to fear appearing weak.

Yet everyone has a breaking point, and some of the qualities of a great leader include the ability to recognize when and why you should ask for help. Your responsibilities will inevitably outweigh the time you have to fulfill them. You simply can’t know and do everything — that’s why you have a team of talented employees.

Don’t let fear prevent you and your organization from achieving success. And don’t worry about seeming inept. A Harvard Business School study showed that respondents see people who seek advice as more competent than those who don’t. Being a great leader means reaching out for support and offering it in return.

The Benefits of Asking for Help

While it can take time to become comfortable asking for assistance as a leader, anyone can reach this point with practice. There are countless benefits of asking for help, but you might notice things changing for the better in a few key ways:

  1. You’ll make more informed decisions.
    How you make decisions is often just as important as the decisions themselves. Analytics can certainly validate your inclinations, but being a great leader means going beyond the data and seeking counsel from a variety of sources before arriving at a final decision.

    Opposing viewpoints and diverse perspectives have proven to improve the quality of decisions. Teams with diverse perspectives and experiences make better decisions than individual decision makers 87% of the time. Ask for input and opinions to view situations in a different light and come to the best conclusions.

  2. You’ll minimize risk.
    You are the sum of your experiences, and these experiences can sometimes lead to errors in thought. That alone is a key reason why you should ask for help and feedback. Plus, you can benefit from increased productivity — 80% to be exact — when you use your strengths every day at work.

    Your business will be better off if you ask for help rather than waste time on projects that don’t align with your skills. Seeking guidance, especially from someone with greater or different knowledge than you, brings other experiences to the table. This can help eliminate any misconceptions or preconceived notions, allowing you to move your organization forward in the right direction and avoid missteps along the way.

  3. Team morale will improve.
    If anyone has ever asked for your help, you already know how happy it makes you feel. Research backs this up: When people volunteer just a few hours a month, they generally describe themselves as very happy. This is at least partly due to the social aspect of lending a hand.

    By asking team members for help, you include them in the process, show your respect for their opinions, and help increase their happiness. Talk about a morale booster! What’s more, a “culture of helping” has been found to increase employee retention, customer satisfaction, and profits.

  4. Learning opportunities will increase.
    No one is great at everything. If you’re willing to ask for help, you can tap into others’ expertise and learn from their successes and mistakes. In turn, this can shine a light on your own areas in need of improvement, thereby accelerating your learning and expanding your knowledge.

    When you allow your team to participate in these kinds of learning opportunities, your entire organization benefits. One report found that the strength of a company’s learning culture was the most substantial driver of business impact.

    Why is it so hard to ask for help when it only serves to strengthen your leadership abilities? Regardless of the reasons, leaders must overcome any mental blocks and get assistance — especially during uncertain times. In addition to opening you up to new opportunities and ideas, it can help you eliminate biases, make more informed decisions, and improve team morale. The first ask is often the most difficult, but it will get easier with more practice. In time, you’ll begin to experience the true benefits of asking for help as a leader.

Written by Ann Dieleman.

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Ann Dieleman
Ann Dieleman is the executive director of PIMA. She has worked with startup, small business, and Fortune 100 leaders, and she is the founder of an advisory firm that works with first-time executives to grow and sustain profitable businesses. Ann Dieleman is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on LinkedIn.