Why strong leaders will ask for help

A great leader is often perceived to know all the answers and never feel the need to ask for help. But in fact the opposite is true, says leadership coach Tanya Livesey

“Asking for help is often the one simple act standing between us and success.” Wayne Baker

Hands up who needs some help? Now ask yourself, how often do you ask for it? 

As we navigate this new world we find ourselves in, as leaders we cannot possibly know all the answers (at least we can no longer pretend we do). But even before the pandemic hit, the explosion of new specialisms and technologies required for our businesses meant we might often have found ourselves knowing less than our teams, or facing a challenge without the requisite expertise. And that can be an uncomfortable place to be.

Unfortunately, it’s all too common for leaders to believe they have to play the hero. The expert that has all the answers, the strong one when times are tough, or the fire hydrant when crises strike. Surely our role is to help our teams not to ask for it.  

But there are myriad benefits to facing up to not being a know-it-all. In his book, All You Have to Do is Ask, Wayne Baker cites alleviation from stress, improved team and personal performance and productivity, higher job satisfaction and, critically, better creativity and innovation as just some of the many side-effects of asking for the help you need and encouraging others to do the same. It makes sound commercial sense, too. Studies have shown that failure to ask for help and knowledge-share effectively costs Fortune 500 companies as much as $31.5 billion every year.

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes