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Asking For Help

Steps to Do It Effectively.

More than anyone, leaders need to be comfortable asking for help.


For three reasons.


Leaders are often removed from the details of the work others are doing. To make sound decisions, leaders need to be informed and helped by the actors on the ground, who are often the subject matter experts in the areas of their work.


Leaders are people. As people, they may have blindspots that prevent them from seeing things clearly. It is only in asking for and allowing counsel from others that they gain other perspectives that fill the gaps in their vision to create a stronger foundation for leadership decision-making.


Due to the demands of their roles, leaders often get mentally and physically exhausted. Exhaustion dramatically reduces critical thinking and decision-making functions. Leaders, therefore, need to ask for help at work and at home if they are to maximize their 360 leadership effectiveness.

“Ask for help. Not because you are weak. But because you want to remain strong.”

-Les Brown.

If you don't often ask for help, and even if you do, here are tips to do so effectively.

1. Acknowledge You Need Help

It sounds simple, but too many people don't ask for help because they don't acknowledge they need help. Overwhelmed? Uncertain? Procrastinating? This may be a sign that you are in over your head and need to ask for help to either rest, gain more insights, or simply lessen your workload.

2. Find Out What You Need Help With

Narrow your ask to the area that, if addressed, would yield the greatest impact. Even when you don't know what specifically you need help with, identifying the broad area that needs attention is better than being too general and not receiving appropriate support.

3. Identify Who Can Help

Ask yourself who has the know-how and know-who to help you. This goes to the heart of understanding who has the resource (knowledge, skills, experience) and referent (relationships and networks) power to advance the issue you are engaging them in.

4. Give More Than You Ask

Unless you ask in an emergency, in which case, your ask may be transactional, plan to give more value than what you ask for. When you have built effective relations with others, your ask becomes a withdrawal from the social or professional capital you had invested in the relationship. It can also be made with an implicit or explicit promise to make a future deposit into building the relationship.

Think of what they value, plan on how you can support them, and, where appropriate, communicate the same before you make your ask.

5. Time Your Ask

Although there may never be a perfect time to ask for help, you can time your ask to maximize the value of the support you receive. Depending on the phase of the process you are undergoing, some asks need to be made before starting, others when you are stuck, and others still as you make progress or look back to evaluate effectiveness.

It is also important to time the ask according to your target audience's capacity to help. Assess whether they are the best person or organization to ask based on their interests, priorities, capacity, and even terms for supporting you.

Get Help Asking for Help

Check out these select videos on asking for help. If you find them valuable, please subscribe to the Modesta Mahiga YouTube Channel and share the videos.

Need to Ask for Help? Click below to speak to one of our Senior Consultants, who would be more than happy to help.

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