The most successful people in business rely on others to do their jobs better, insists Camille Preston, writing for the Fortune website.
Far from being a sign of weakness or a lack of competence, asking for help is something all great leaders do, says the author.
She explains: “Call it what you will – building a team, outsourcing, collaborating, delegating, etc – it all amounts to asking for help. And that is a critical factor in professional and personal success.”
Preston observes that many leaders are reluctant to ask for help and believe they have to do everything themselves. Whatever the reasons for this, the author urges them to overcome their reticence and offers the following advice:
1) Get over yourself. It’s important to remind yourself that there are other people who can do what you do, and in many situations you are not the best person for the job. In any case, asking for help will clear time and enable you to save energy for other tasks.
2) Reframe your thinking. Stop perceiving a request for help as a sign of weakness or incompetence, and “reframe” it as strategically allocating time for you to focus on what matters most.
If you are unable to do something because of a lack of time or expertise, rather than dwelling on it, concentrate on the opportunity that seeking assistance will offer – such as a chance to connect to a colleague and show they are valued, or the possibility of getting a task done quicker or more efficiently.
3) Consider your colleagues. Asking for help will improve your leadership skills because it will prompt you to think about tapping valuable resources and getting the best outcome in the least amount of time and with the fewest resources – in other words, getting the right people for the job involved.
Preston comments: “It’s all about building the right team. And the best way to do that is to know your colleagues, cultivate your networks, and proactively build relationships.”
Think about people’s strengths and weaknesses, what they’ve been working on, who works well together, who leads well and who follows well.
When assembling the right people to help you, Preston suggests you consider the following questions:
• What is the project’s scope?
• What have I learned from similar projects and how can I leverage that knowledge?
• What aspects do I need help with?
• Who has expertise in this area or has executed on this task?
4) Ask the right way. When seeking help, don’t make the excuse that you don’t have time or that you can’t work out how to do the task. Instead, frame the request in positive terms, highlighting what the person in question can offer and why you need their expertise.