Berger Leadership Blog

Categories: Leadership

Why asking for help is not a sign of weakness

Dan and AnthonyIn my most recent blogs, I've shared the case for eliminating the "manager" title and tips to help a struggling employee. One recommendation that these blogs share: Empowering employees to work independently, without micromanagement.

However, being self-sufficient in your role does not mean you forfeit your right to ask for help. In a recent article, internationally-known executive coach John Baldoni stresses that "seeking assistance is not a sign of weakness. It's an indication of political savviness."

One thing organizational leaders and new hires have in common, Baldoni writes, is "a reluctance to ask for help." Here are a few reasons why we are reluctant to ask for help. Do these factor into your decision not to ask?

  • We underestimate other's willingness to help us.
  • We over-rely on self-reliance.
  • We fear the social cost of appearing "stupid."
  • We don't feel secure enough in our job or workplace.
  • Office bureaucracy gets in the way.
  • We don't know how to ask.
  • We fear seeming selfish, like we're only looking out for ourselves.

There are human flaws that contribute to each of these reasons. We overthink how others will perceive our request and that fear convinces us not to ask.

However, asking for help makes us stronger. Not one of us got to where we are today all alone. We had parents, teachers, mentors, peers, etc. that all provided guidance to help us learn and achieve success. As a leader of an organization, it's critical that you understand the reasons outlined by Baldoni and work to address them in your office culture.

For people in new roles, instill the mindset that they have time to learn and grow into it. You're not expected to know how to complete all job functions right away, and there will surely be situations when you don't have the answer, regardless of how long you've been in that role. Having an environment where employees can seek help and get honest input will make your organization more productive.

This mindset also creates stronger teams. When teammates feel secure and comfortable in their role, they will be more willing to work together to tackle problems. Your organization is one team; different departments and individual employees should not feel like it's a competition or be inclined to withhold information to keep another from getting ahead.

An inquisitive mind demonstrates a willingness to problem solve, which is critical in today's modern workplace. Be supportive of employees asking for help, and embody that spirit yourself. It'll make your organization much stronger.

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About the Author

B. Dan Berger, President and CEO, NAFCU

Dan BergerB. Dan Berger first joined NAFCU in 2006 and has helped expand the association's reputation into becoming a premiere advocate for the credit union industry.

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