“Attach yourself to those who advise you rather than praise you.” – Nicolas Boileau-Despreaux
I’m fortunate to spend most of my day in the company of successful leaders of great organizations. I could list all the behaviors or skills that these leaders seem to have in common – they embrace change, they have an internal locus of control, etc. But there are already hundreds of books written about that kind of stuff.
I want to remind you of something else successful leaders have in common that doesn’t always get mentioned. It’s a willingness to ask for help, and an ability to surround themselves with people who can give it, both inside and outside their organizations.
That may not sound like your idea of a great leader. Some people have the mistaken belief that being a leader means you have to have all the answers, that asking for help shows weakness or a lack of ability. The reality is the exact opposite. Being a leader means understanding that you don’t have all the answers, that you need other people’s strengths to make up for your weaknesses, that the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts.
Who is helping you? Who in your organization can you count on when you’re uncertain or uninformed or lacking the right skills? If there’s nobody internally, who can you count on from the outside? There has to be somebody, preferably multiple somebodies.
Think about your team. If you don’t have people who you can turn to for help, find some. It can be peers in another organization, it can be a trusted advisor, it can be a mentor, whatever. Just find somebody to be part of your team. We can all use a helping hand.