A simple word that is only four letters long. Yet, it can take so much courage to say it. Showing vulnerability. Reaching out for support.

Leaders can be fearful of seeking help or support too. Feeling it might make them look weak. A sense of guilt can even occur. Yet, for those leaders and managers brave enough to ask, help can make you a stronger leader – boosting your relationships in the workplace.

As a coach, it has always been a privilege to be on the receiving end of that request for help. I have always welcomed the responsibility that comes with this honour.

Fears can develop for leaders that they are not worthy of the position or title that they have achieved. Imposter syndrome can start to creep in. They believe that by asking for help, it shows weakness, or a flaw in their character. In fact, the truth is quite the opposite: asking for help within leadership is a major strength. It demonstrates leaders have strong self-awareness; that they don’t always have all the answers. And that is OK. Perception is often a barrier to development. Leaders can worry about what people will think or say if they reach out for help.

“Humble people ask for help.” | Joyce Meyer

Seeking help

Seeking help has been a common theme during the coaching conversations I have had over the years. These types of conversations have often led to huge developmental strides.

Often, I will ask the person needing support what they would do if our roles reversed. What are the perceived obstacles and what solutions would they suggest to me? Simple changes to phrases, or questions, can help overcome the perception, while also assisting the leader in their need for help.

After that act of kindness or support has taken place, it’s important that the leader says, “thank you”. It is a way of closing off the supportive action and fear. Building a bridge for further help and development in the future.

The follow up

In follow-up coaching sessions, I always ask leaders “how did things go?” after they asked for help. The response is often “I wish I had done so earlier”. Whether that be with their managers, team members, or anyone else, they almost always responded with kindness and support, rather than judgment. These are great opportunities to learn and develop and they also remind us that asking for help is a strength, not a weakness.

Letting go as a leader can also be hard. Relinquishing control feels counterintuitive. Developing trust in others, to do the key actions, can often be a challenge. Yet, when we talk through fears or potential problems it’s OK to not have all the answers. Talking problems through with team members can help develop their confidence. And your own! Always recognise that help is not a dirty word, but a rewarding opportunity. In fact, it helps to boost delegation skills. Building trust within team environments. Empowering others with opportunities to grow in their own roles.

If any leaders out there are facing difficulties, there is always a helping hand available. It just takes the confidence to reach out and embrace the support.

I have built some great relationships with the leaders that I have coached. These relationships share a common foundation of non-judgment and respect. Where conversations about support, help and guidance are encouraged.

So many leaders have gone on to great successes, because of saying those four letters – H-E-L-P.

Why not reap the rewards of asking for help, rather than putting up barriers to your own development?

By Mark Ellis, Leadership Coach, Accipio

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We also offer leadership and management programmes. Plus, apprenticeships. All underpinned by CMI qualifications. Helping to develop the next generation of leaders and managers. We were recently shortlisted by the CMI, for Outstanding Training Provider 2023.