The Difficulty of Asking For Help
Our leadership team has spent the last month reading and discussing Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies From A Life At Disney by Lee Cockerell. In his book, Mr. Cockerell chronicles lessons he learned regarding customer service, employee engagement and striving for excellence during his tenures at Disney and Marriott, two companies that excel at those three functions. It has been an excellent read.
I have often wondered if the books we read actually sink into my team’s brains. My concerns were dispelled this week.
At our weekly Pulse meeting, I announced that we would need to postpone our Spring Welcome Back Staff Breakfast which we had scheduled for the next day. I told everyone that I simply had not had time to pull things together to pull it off. I justified the decision that since we had not announced the breakfast to our team, and that it had been a very bus early spring, it was ok to reschedule.
I preach unity among all of our team members and events like breakfasts are an integral part of us getting to know each other better when we are not knee deep on a job site. I feared that cancelling it would send a signal that building an engaged team was not as important to me as I claimed. To say the least, I was not comfortable with cancelling the breakfast, but announced it anyway. My leadership team nodded that they understood and accepted my decision.
That is when our Office Manager, Prashanthi, asked what needed to be done. I told her that I had not had time to get the shopping done, to which she said she could do it that afternoon.
Mark, one of our new Account Managers, chimed in and reminded me of something from Creating Magic: good leaders ask for help when they need it. There was a moment of silence. I think Mark may have regretted opening his mouth but I was thrilled that he did. He had taken the book’s message to heart.
There is a common belief that leaders must do epic things; lead soldiers into battle, find water for a village, be elected into office, and that we are not truly leaders unless we are doing such things. Being a leader is really about sharing a vision, giving the people around you the tools and guidance to work towards that vision, and then stepping back and letting them do their thing.
There is also a misconception that asking for help is a sign of weakness, when it is really a sign of strength. All too often, as leaders, we think we must do it all or that no one can do it as well as us. Asking for help humanizes leadership. Asking for help allows a team member to step up and help move the ball forward. It strengthens the team.
To say the least, I am thrilled to be surrounded by such exceptional leaders and am always impressed with how much they care about Allentuck Landscaping Co. and our customers.
Prashanthi did go out that afternoon and get the food and supplies. Tim and I came in early and cooked breakfast burritos. When everyone arrived at 6:30 they were pleasantly surprised to have breakfast, coffee and juice waiting for them. We got to spend time eating and joking around with our staff before they headed out for a very productive day.
Help. Just ask for it.
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