As a high performer with a reputation for excellence, it’s difficult to acknowledge when you need help. You worry that you’ll be perceived as less capable if you can’t do it on your own. You know that others are just as busy as you are and don’t want to burden them with your needs. Or you simply don’t know where to turn for support.
It’s unfortunate that many accomplished professionals view asking for help as a sign of weakness. We all intellectually recognize that we’re part of a bigger team and that our individual efforts are not as individual as they might seem. When it comes time to lean on those teams, however, we often hold back.
Here are a few scenarios when your best option is to ask for help:
- If you’re unclear about what is expected of you, clarify this with your manager by asking questions and getting better guidance.
- If a deliverable falls outside your area of expertise, seek the support of someone who can collaborate with or mentor you.
- If you have limited bandwidth and can’t fit the effort into your crowded schedule, delegate it to a trusted member of your team.
Asking for help is not only NOT a weakness, it’s a strength. The ability to recognize your own capabilities and limitations is an important level of self-awareness that allows you to establish realistic goals and successfully achieve them. Here are some ways in which asking for help can benefit your career.
Maximize Your Efficiency
Every minute that you spend floundering, engaging in lengthy trial and error processes, or doing work that can be better or more appropriately completed by someone else is precious time that could be used productively to advance your goals. Time management is a critical skill that requires you to set limits and focus on the highest value activities. Don’t try to be a hero by taking on tasks that are not a good use of your skill set.
Build Powerful Relationships
Asking for help demands a high level of trust – trust that the request won’t undermine your credibility, trust that the other person has the right competencies to help, and trust that your resource(s) will follow through on time. As a result, the best collaborations occur between professionals with good working relationships. Being vulnerable and acknowledging their strengths are a great way to show respect for your colleagues and to earn their respect in return. The trust and respect that result from these engagements form a strong foundation upon which powerful relationships can be built. These relationships have the potential to benefit you in numerous other ways as well.
Strengthen Your Brand
Your work is a reflection on you as a professional. Naturally, high quality work elevates your professional brand, whereas poor quality, late, or incomplete work damages your brand. Going it alone when you’re unclear or unqualified doesn’t inspire admiration; it simply risks errors, delays, and other issues. Asking for help from the appropriate resources allows you to do your best work and strengthen your reputation in the organization.
Being a strong leader requires the ability to prioritize, delegate, and utilize resources appropriately. The best leaders don’t know everything or do everything themselves; they seek expert support from their network of resources. By recognizing your weaknesses and engaging others to help, you demonstrate that you can be strategic, problem solve, and manage your time wisely.