When I was a young leader, many years ago, I thought that part of leadership was showing your teammates that you could do everything required of anyone in your office. After all, you were the leader and people expected mastery from you.

Over the past several decades, I learned just the opposite is true. Colleagues do not expect their leaders to master everything in the office. Rather, colleagues like to master tasks and processes themselves, and show their teammates their capabilities.

In the old days of Jack Welch, top -down leadership, it was expected that leaders had all the answers, and knew how to do almost anything required. These days, the best leaders delegate as much as they can, and they ask, teammates their opinions, and for advice when appropriate.

I was reminded of this paradigm over Thanksgiving weekend. My wife and I were down in Texas celebrating the holiday with our younger son, his fiancé and her family. At one point in the kitchen, I struggled with a particular task repeatedly. My son asked me, “Dad, why do you find it so difficult to ask for help? I’ve seen this many times at home and now here.“

I answered my son by admitting that this desire for self-sufficiency emanated from my childhood, when I grew up with an inferiority complex, and wanted to prove to everyone, but especially to myself that I could do things independently.

In the workplace, interestingly, I behaved in the opposite manner. Over time, I learned that asking for help from colleagues, and accepting their help is a win-win arrangement.

When we as leaders ask for, and accept help:

-We are allowing our teammates to demonstrate their skill and aptitude,

-We are showing them our confidence in their abilities, and

-We are helping them build their own self-confidence, as they traverse their unique leadership, journeys

Simultaneously, by asking for and accepting their assistance, we are being more effective leaders by:

-Role-modeling and showing colleagues that it is appropriate to request help

-Role-modeling the essence of humility in acknowledging that teammates may know more than we do

-Demonstrating effective time-management skill by asking for help, instead of struggling to resolve a problem by ourselves

So as you continue down your own leadership path, please remember that asking for help is not a weakness, but a strength.

And after we ask for that help, it’s up to us to graciously express appreciation for it!

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