Asking for help: An overlooked leadership principle

by MPA25 Nov 2014
By David Lykken
Special to MPA

Being a leader in your organization comes with a great deal of responsibility. People are going to look to you for guidance and direction. They are going to expect you to be able to tell them what to do and when to do it. Since your people expect it and your position calls for it, you may begin to think that you need to have all the answers.

 Leaders are supposed to be strong, confident, and self-assured. Leaders are the rocks that other people lean on for support. Leaders don't need to ask for help; leaders are the ones who are offering the help. They are the source of influence, power, and support. If you as a leader ask for help, then you aren't being very leader-like, are you?

I tend to disagree. I think the ability to ask for help is central to being a leader. It demonstrates two things: humility and resourcefulness. First, if you are willing to admit that you don't have all the answers, your humility will allow you to grow. You can only gain new knowledge when you understand that you still have more to learn.

 Secondly, asking for help means you are doing what it takes to get the job done. Being a leader is about getting the help you need--it's about knowing who to ask and when. When you ask for help, you are tapping into the resources you need to succeed. And that, at the end of the day, is what it means to be a leader.