3 Reasons Why Great Leaders Welcome Help

Guest post from Victor Prince:
A
few of summers ago, I hiked the ancient Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail
across Spain. It was the best month of my life for many reasons. Along with a
lot of other great things I got by walking almost 500 miles, it also taught me
some valuable lessons in leadership.
One
lesson came as I stopped for lunch in a café in one quiet, small town and sat
by a window while I ate a sandwich. The only sign of life outside was three
older men sitting in plastic chairs in the shade in front of a house. They
didn’t seem to be talking or doing much other than just sitting next to each
other watching pilgrims go by. I supposed it was a better pastime than being
inside watching television alone.
A
couple of other pilgrims who had just finished eating left the café. They
looked around for a yellow arrow and, when they didn’t see any, decided to go
to the left. Instantly, the three men sitting in the shade started yelling and
pointing to get the pilgrims’ attention. They were pointing them in the other
direction to show them the correct way to continue on the Camino. The pilgrims
stopped, said thank you and turned to follow the men’s directions.  The old men waved them on and bid them
farewell with a “buen camino.”
The
speed of their reactions made me think these three men did this regularly. Then
it dawned on me these men weren’t just people watching. They were waiting for
these opportunities to redirect lost pilgrims. They were perfectly positioned
across the street from the only café in town. The corner they were on would
have been an ideal place for a painted yellow arrow corners like that usually
had. The suspicious part of me wondered if these guys were sitting in front of
the arrow to obscure it so their help would be needed.
I
finished my sandwich a few minutes later. As I walked out, I too looked for an
arrow, and when I didn’t see one, I purposely went the wrong way. Once again,
the old men leapt into action and pointed me in the other direction. I thanked
them and they wished me a good walk. I smiled as I wondered how many times they
had done this ritual before.
As
I walked on, that interaction made me think about how I offered and received
help in my career. I loved giving advice. If someone sought my advice, I took
it as a sign of respect. It gave my ego a boost. It made me feel helpful.
On
the flip side, however, I realized I didn’t ask others for advice very often.
If I didn’t know something, I would rather figure it out myself. I didn’t want
to show weakness. I didn’t want to bother other people. And if people gave me
unsolicited advice, I would often be defensive, and take it as criticism. Far
from welcoming help from others, I pushed it away.
A
light bulb went off with me that told me to be more welcoming of help from
others at work for three reasons:
1.
I actually need help
sometimes
.
I have a lot of expertise and experience, but I don’t have all the answers to
all the problems and opportunities that arise at work. Whenever I can swallow
my pride and ask for help, I can make better decisions. 
2.
It makes others feel
good to help
.
When I do ask for help, I don’t only benefit from the assistance I receive, I
also make the helper feel good. That helps me build a stronger relationship
with the person helping me. The person helping me is investing in my success.
That can help me get their support in the future. I am also giving them the
same ego boost and sense of value I get when I provide help. Simply by enabling
others to grant the gift of help, I am also giving a gift.
3.
I should model the
behavior to others
.
As a leader, I would be showing the value of welcoming help. It would empower
me to demand that people on my team also welcome help. If I modeled that
behavior, I could make it explicit in
their goals and expected competencies.

Great
leaders are always looking to improve themselves. Sometimes that starts by
asking others for help.

————————–
About
the Author: 
Victor Prince is an
author and speaker who teaches strategy, communication, and leadership 
skills to
clients around the world. Victor’s new book, The
Camino Way: Lessons in Leadership from a Walk Across Spain
, comes out in
July 2017 from the American Management Association in hardcover, ebook, and
audiobook.
You can find his books,
training courses, keynote speeches and more at www.VictorPrince.com.