In Change, Leaders

“When dealing with complex transportation issues, the best thing to do is pull up with a cold beer and let somebody else figure it out.” – Anthony Bourdain

There’s an interesting contradiction that I hear from leaders on a regular basis. When I ask leaders about the strengths of their organization, almost invariably they say “people”. They talk about how great their people are, how talented they are, how well they perform, etc.

Later in the conversation we’ll talk about what challenges the leader faces and most of the time one of those challenges is “I don’t have enough time” or “There are too many things on my plate”. If you’re so overwhelmed with stuff to do, and you have all these great people, then why don’t you ask them to help you?

There are lots of reasons, but here’s one that’s come up multiple times lately. Too many leaders think that because they’re the leader, they have to have the answer. If there’s a problem, they’re supposed to know what to do. It doesn’t matter what the topic is. If somebody comes to the leader with a problem, the leader’s supposed to be able to solve it.

This isn’t rocket science but I think it needs saying: It’s OK for the leader to say they don’t have the answer. It’s OK for the leader to ask for help. It’s OK for the leader to ask someone else if they have an idea. None of those things is bad.

Not only will someone perhaps be able to help you, but people appreciate leaders who are honest and authentic and willing to be vulnerable. When you’re faking it because you think you’re supposed to have all the answers, trust me – you’re not fooling anybody. People can see right through that. When you’re being completely real and just trying to do what’s right by the business or your employees or your customers and just trying to solve problems without worrying about how you look – people can see that too. And they appreciate it.

As you go through your week, think about how you react in situations where you don’t have the answer. Are you looking for help? Are you being honest about where you’re struggling? Or are you a pretend rock star?  Don’t take it all on yourself.  Get help.

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