When I was asked to speak to a group of professional women, I was told I could choose my topic. I felt the women in the group would have a lot of answers of “how to” do many things, but I see many strong women struggle with something, and I knew it would be my focus:
Asking for help.
Strong people know how to dictate or demand help. But good leadership comes with different kinds of responsibilities. We set an example, but that doesn’t mean knowing the solution to everything. Leadership requires humility and authenticity, an openness to include others and even admit we’re wrong, or at the very least, recognizing that others have better suggestions and solutions than we do much of the time.
Leading well involves facilitating relationships and cooperation.
Consider the following approaches to help:
- We direct help.
- We facilitate help.
- We accept help.
- We ask for help.
When we direct people to help, we might see it as a posture of standing tall. We take a stand and look out to see what needs to be done. Then we begin directing people to take care of tasks.
Sometimes we facilitate help. Instead of standing, consider facilitation as a posture of sitting among others, perhaps in a board room. We’re facing others but we are still in the position to put the pieces together and make sure everyone is involved in ways that fit and move forward.
We can direct help or facilitate help, and we can accept help. We might see accepting help as a posture of separating ourselves, perhaps being overwhelming and needing someone to rescue us.
Then there is the next step of asking for help, which we might see as sitting on the ground in the dirt, uncertain of next steps, requiring someone to help us up.
But the way we look at our posture affects the way we approach and receive help, and we might see it as a hierarchy, where the higher we are, the better we are, and the lower we are, the weaker we are. But we’d be mistaken.
Directing help isn’t always the tall, outstanding position we believe it to be, just as asking for help isn’t a position to avoid at all costs.
The more humble we are, the more people notice how approachable we are. After all, we all have weaknesses. We all need others. When we become more comfortable with a variety of approaches to help, the more we impact others, because we’re inviting others to participate in our lives.
Leading through help isn’t really about us at all. It’s about influence, which requires others.
Ask for help. Accept help. And facilitate and direct help when necessary.
We all need help.