- March 7, 2018
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Leadership, management
A recent article, Eight Mistakes Leaders Make That Kill Employee Trust, briefly discussed different management shortcomings and problems that we may unknowingly have or use, which can ruin employees’ respect for us. I wanted to address each of these mistakes and help you learn how to avoid them.
This week, the first post, is about not asking for help. About trying to do everything yourself. Assuming you’re correct and your way is the only way to do things.
Not asking for help is just a function of very poor communication. It’s an unwillingness to share ideas, plans, or even your weaknesses. And it’s a great way to bog yourself down in trying to get anything done. You don’t get your problems done properly, and you’re wasting time trying to find a solution that you’re probably not very good at or able to manage on your own.
For example, whenever I had a problem, I would go to a subject matter expert and get their thoughts as a leader, if you will. After all, they’re a leader in their particular field. That’s why they’re working for you. (Side note: Always hire people who are smarter than you.)
I would listen to their advice and then take that information to the operating management group and lay the issue/problem out for them. Then I would open it up for discussion and ask for their input and opinions.
Now, I may have had some initial concepts in mind when I went to my operations group, but I would always let them digest the problem and then discuss possible solutions. And when we came up with a workable solution, I would make the decision to implement it.
A maxim of mine was that I never expected unanimous agreement, I only expected unanimous commitment. So once the debating was over and the decision was taken, everyone didn’t have to like it, but they had to be committed to it and participate in it.
What causes leaders to not ask for help?
Leaders who don’t like to ask for help generally have a big ego. They have a tendency to believe in their own infallibility. They assume that if they’re the leader, they have to know everything and be good at everything. Why else would they be the leader, right?
Well, no one is good at everything, and no one knows everything, and the leaders who believe that are going to be roundly ineffective. And where there’s a big ego, it’s difficult to break through and get them to listen to anyone else’s solutions or ideas.
Did you ever work for someone with that problem or have someone work for you who did? In a group, there is always one or two and you have to consistently wash that out. It doesn’t have to be nice, but it has to be done, because it has a way of killing enthusiasm if one or two people are allowed to exercise their ego and everybody else is sidelined. Whether it’s out of a fear of failure or a fear of being seen as weak, I have no idea. All I know is that it is not a positive element within a team environment.
If you ever watched Star Trek: The Next Generation in the late 1980s and early 1990s, you could see this kind of leadership style at play. Captain Jean-Luc Picard, played by fellow Englishman, Patrick Stewart, was a big proponent of participatory leadership and asking others for help. His crew would present and debate solutions to a problem, and he would listen to all of them before coming up with their next course of action.
Ultimately he made the decision, but his job was to get the best people to do their best work. He had to make the decision himself, because he was responsible for the results, but he never tried to find the solution by himself. He let his subject matter experts come up with their best ideas, and let them use their expertise and intelligence to “make it so.”
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: Pixabay (Creative Commons 0, Public Domain)