Good Leaders Ask for Help

In the American culture we have traditionally viewed great leaders as almost super-human in their strength. But of course, this strength is not often thought of as purely physical. Society has viewed great leaders as emotionally strong to the point of stoicism. Or we might think of it as mental of physical stamina.

Whatever the case may be, all leaders are human, and humans are vulnerable. Good leaders should view showing their vulnerability from time to time, by asking for help, an asset. A good leader should not think in terms of showing any vulnerability as a weakness.
There are two clear reasons why trying to be more than human isn’t a good plan. First, it is unsustainable. Life will eventually find a way to put a weakness, flaw or fault in our path and we will need help to overcome it.

Second, it isn’t good leadership. If we all can agree that leadership is about connection we can agree on this second point. We know that people will only work hard, create and risk for you if they feel connected. How can one create this level of trust by only putting our strengths on display? When the time comes for a leader to face one of their weakness they may come of as dishonest or at worst an outright fraud.

The best thing to remember is that our struggles define us in equal measure as our successes. Being able to be honest about needing help is an essential trait of a great leader.

The Power of “Thank You”

If you want people on your “team”—whatever that means to you: in business, as a partner, an employee or even just a reference thanking them more than once might be the strategy to win them over to your side as one to call upon.

It is as simple as it sounds. You simply find occasion on which to thank them more than once. Obviously, the gesture needs to be sincere to work. You’ll want to thank them for any time or resources they lend to your cause. This is essential if you want them to help you again and again. While it may sound unfair, a single thank you, while being plenty of a verbal return on their investment in you on a singular occasion, will not stick in most people’s minds. Find ways to so sincere gratitude clearly and often. You should try to go beyond words if you can. Something like flowers, a bottle of wine or some other similar gesture is a great way to go for the second or third “thank you”.

For example, if you were offered a graduate assistantship because of a recommendation from someone in your network an immediate thank you is expected and needed immediately. Very few people would find occasion to thank the person again. After you start that assistantship find a way to say thank again and give them some context about how much the assistantship has helped your career.

After a year into the assistantship, perhaps on the anniversary of its beginning, it is time for another “thank you.” Share your results with them, show this person how much you have learned and grown and thank them again for the opportunity they helped you achieve.
Now, this person in your network will have a clear memory of how appreciative you are and would likely help you again if asked. Really the message here is sincere gratitude. Everyone says “thank you” once. Demonstrate the strength of your conviction by showing this person over a period of time that you are still grateful for their service to you.