To ask or not to ask?

There absolutely nothing I hate more than asking for help; especially when I am in charge. 

This is difficult for me to admit but in the spirit of honesty and full disclosure: I am the crowned Queen of the DIY Leadership Kingdom. I would rather lose my left eye than admit I need help understanding fundamental facts/figures.

I have been in situations where I knew absolutely nothing about what was being discussed but had my pen and poised to take down significant notes  not worth as much as the paper on which they are written.

So have I mastered the art of asking for help? Not at all but I now know how to ask for help and still save face. 

Yes, I know there is nothing wrong or shameful with asking for help but tell that to the gods.

The team’s perception of their leader goes downhill if the said leader always comes across as clueless.

On the other hand, the leader loses team trust and confidence when s/he flounders.

Here are a few tips on asking for help with confidence and still maintain your authority/reputation as a good leader:

1. Understand the bigger picture: Leadership is really not about you and how awesome you are. 

It fundamentally is about taking the team on a journey from point A to B in the least painful way possible. 

Once you have this etched in your brain, asking questions and seeming stupid is minuscule compared to leading your team over the cliff due to some unintelligent ego crisis.

2. Develop authentic relationships with team members: I have realised that the best place to ask questions without seeming to ask questions is in the office kitchen (near the water cooler or coffee machine). 

The next best place is at the canteen. There is nothing worse than sitting at a desk all day without fraternising. 

No, it is not a time wasting activity; people are more likely to be of help to you if you know their cats’ names and children’s favourite cartoon character. 

3. Encourage your team to ask questions: When you cultivate an atmosphere of question asking and brain pickings, it is easier for knowledge sharing to flourish. 

Different ways of working emerge and the team is motivated to ask questions no matter how silly they sound. 

The advantage is that when you ask a truly stupid question, it is difficult for others to tell if you are being serious or if it’s just a ploy to encourage more questions.

Do you have an issue with asking for clarification? How do you deal with this?


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