100% Jodi: What Does “Asking for Help” Mean to You?
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What does “asking for help” mean to you?
- Do you avoid it at all cost because asking would mean exposing yourself to judgment?
- Maybe you see the importance and ask for help on occasion, but it’s uncomfortable.
- Or perhaps you ask for help on the regular and you don’t make it mean anything at all.
In this episode we’ll explore why asking for help feels so hard, the benefits you may not be thinking about, and how to request help in a way that actually reinforces you as a strong leader.
For those of you who are new to the Women Taking the Lead podcast…hello and welcome!
I’m Jodi Flynn. I’m an executive leadership coach, speaker, and author. I am the current President of the board for The Maine Women’s Conference. I have the privilege and joy to work with women leaders to hone the skills that allow them to grow into and then thrive in Senior Leadership. My specialization is working with women who are still stabilizing after their last promotion and those who are preparing for the next one.
It is my belief, that for more women to hold positions of senior leadership, there are changes at the individual and organizational level that need to occur. Not only do women need to be trained and coached on how to operate at these levels of leadership, organizations need to change their paradigm of how the work gets done and what supports are in place for leaders to do their jobs.
If we are not already connected on LinkedIn, please send me an invitation to connect. You can find me directly at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jodiflynn, or you can search for Jodi Flynn. I’m very active on LinkedIn so I should be at or near the top of the search results. Be sure to add a note to the invitation letting me know you are a listener of the podcast. I would love to connect with you and get to know you better.
Struggle or Ask for Help?
We all have limits. We all have a point at which our bandwidth of time, energy, knowledge, expertise or resources has been used up. It’s a daunting moment when you realize that, on your own, you’re not going to get any further.
You are faced with the decision to continue to struggle on your own, expending time and energy, (and I’m raising my hand here because I’ve certainly done that before). Or, you could ask for help.
I recently came across an article published in the Harvard Business review titled, How to Get the Help You Need. This article is written by Heidi Grant, a social psychologist who researches, writes, and speaks about the science of motivation.
The article states that regarding asking for help, “research in neuroscience and psychology shows, the social threats involved [in asking for help] — the uncertainty, risk of rejection, potential for diminished status, and inherent relinquishing of autonomy — activate the same brain regions that physical pain does.”
Because the notion of asking for help flies in the face of what we are trying to exude at work – competence and confidence – it can cause discomfort to ask for help.
The Benefits of Asking for Help to You
Yet to be successful at higher levels of leadership we need the support of others. And because of modern-day organizational structures (such as cross-functional teams or working with vendors), more than ever you need to go beyond your immediate circle for advice, referrals and resources.
I don’t want to belabor this point, because I think you know intellectually that you need more support, and having that support would be good for you. But I do want you to integrate this knowledge so you have less resistance to it, and asking for help becomes natural to you.
It’s great to know more support is helpful, it’s another thing to actually start asking for help on a regular basis.
Studies show that people actually enjoy being helpful. There is an emotional boost we all get from being able to help another person or group. Think of it this way, your request for help is a gift.
There are tangible benefits to asking for help such as saving you time and energy, rather than struggling or doing it all on your own.
The Benefits of Asking for Help to Your Team
If you have a team, asking for their help is a vital part of their professional development.
By asking for assistance from them you are demonstrating that you trust them, you value their expertise and knowledge, and you are open to their contribution. A team that has your trust and confidence will be more willingly to go above and beyond, take on new challenges, and offer new and innovative ideas.
While asking for help can make you feel vulnerable – in a way you are vulnerable – yet vulnerability in a leader is a strength. According to Brené Brown, the long-time researcher on vulnerability and shame, “If you can’t ask for help without self-judgment, you cannot offer help without judging others.”
By asking for help you send your team a signal that it’s okay for them to ask for help as well. It builds a bond between you and them and makes your work environment a safe space to learn, be creative, and stretch.
This goes beyond your team. Imagine sending this signal to your peers as well. Risking being vulnerable could open the door for more collaboration, ease in higher level decision-making, and again, a working environment that feels safe and supportive.
How to Ask for Help
Now that we’ve listed out numerous benefits of asking for help, let’s talk about how to ask for help, because how you make the request makes a difference.
First, be respectful of the other person and their time.
I’m not one to recommend putting important things off waiting for the perfect time, because I don’t know that we ever know for sure what that is (if it even exists). But, be mindful to ask the other person if they have the bandwidth to assist you before you launch into what you need.
Showing respect for another person’s time, expertise and resources will have them be more likely to say yes or offer another solution or resource to you.
Further, ask for help before it’s an emergency.
You don’t want to put the other person in a position where they feel compelled to drop everything to help you out; or, have to regretfully say no to you because you caught them at a time when they don’t have the capacity.
Next, get to the point.
Don’t make the other person sit through a speech or read a long email explaining how you’re killing it in every area but this. That’s your ego trying to protect itself from being vulnerable.
If you’re being respectful, you won’t expect them to sit through an unnecessary defense of your intelligence or skill on the job. Assume they know you’re brilliant and get to the heart of the matter.
Then, be specific about what would be most helpful to you.
Are you asking for a task to be taken off your hands? Are you looking for feedback or advice? Do you need help brainstorming solutions? By when do you need this?
If you are not clear about what it is you are looking for, you may get a response that you are not open to.
If the other person is agreeable to helping you, let them know concisely what you’ve completed or what you’ve tried so far.
You don’t want the other person wasting time going over ground you’ve already covered. They will not appreciate it either. Empower them with the information and resources they need to help you and get the job done.
A Strong Leader Asks for Help
Don’t let the fear of judgment prevent you and your organization from achieving success. And don’t worry about seeming inept. A Harvard Business School study showed that respondents see people who seek advice as more competent than those who don’t. Being a great leader means reaching out for support and offering it in return.
If you are not already at the stage where you are clear on your limits and asking for help in advance of using up your bandwidth, I want you to get there soon.
The sooner you can give up some control, get a little vulnerable, and ask for help, the sooner you will be able to give your best self, and your best work, to those things that, as a leader, truly move the needle.
If asking for help does not come naturally to you, I invite you to work with me. The coaching system I’ve guided my clients through has helped them to let go of old belief patterns and ideas of who they think they need to be, and what they think they need to do, in order to be successful as a leader.
At the end of my coaching system, they are better able to delegate, set boundaries, say no, ask for the help they need, and feel calm and confident in their role as a leader.
How to Ask Your Company to Sponsor You
If the cost of coaching is prohibitive to you, I strongly encourage you to listen to episode 427: How to ask Your Company to Sponsor You to be Coached.
This would be a fantastic way for you to ask for the help you need.
And to have asking be easier for you I’ve put together a checklist that includes scripts that will support you in making your request for coaching.
This checklist takes you step-by-step and has links to the documents and resources that will support the conversation you will have or email you’ll send to your manager or decision-makers.
The ultimate goal is to make it easy for you to ask and easy for them to say yes to you.
You can find this checklist at https://womentakingthelead.com/checklist
You can also find that link in the episode description. If you’re listening on your phone that will be in your podcast app. If you are listening through the Women Taking the Lead website the link will be toward the bottom of the episode webpage.
I want you to get all the support you want and need so don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
You can do it. You can ask for the help you need.
As always, I hope this was of value to you and here’s to your success!
Checklist to Ask Your Company for Coaching: Would coaching help you become a stronger leader? Wondering if your company would pay? It doesn’t hurt to ask!
Leadership Operating System Inventory. Wondering what kind of Leadership traits you have? Take this FREE, FAST self-assessment and find out more about yourself as a Leader.
Accomplished: How to Go from Dreaming to Doing: The book containing a simple, step by step system that gives you the foundation and structure to take your goals and make them happen.
Leadership Coaching: If you interested in finding out more about my coaching process, the cost of coaching, or how to ask your employer to pay for you to work with a coach, schedule a call with me.
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