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Who is Helping the Leaders? But Do They Really Want Help?

Conflicting situations when leaders and managers complain (rightfully) that nobody helps them, yet when you offer help and solutions to their problems, they are hesitant to accept or reject it.

Leaders and managers feel they are expected to be superstars without help or support. I agree. I have been there too. Apart from the occasional poor leadership training, the company never offered other help or guidance. I had no idea most of the time how to manage my team, handle team conflict or cascade goals and values. I was told to do all that, but nobody explained or showed me how. So I had to find my help. I had self-selected mentors, studied to be competent in my job, and observed other leaders whose styles and behaviour appealed to me.

I would have been so happy if someone came to me asking, "Where do you struggle, and where do you need my help?"

Today, I help leaders address organisational issues related to people management practices and coach them on areas they find challenging. But this always starts with a struggle to get them to accept the help, to which I respond,

There is nothing in the corporate world that I have not already seen. You cannot surprise me.

Sometimes I stand there thinking, "I understand what you are going through. I have the solution, please please please take it." It feels like when the doctor offers the pill that makes you feel better, but you refuse it.

They know they need help and complain when they don't have it, but they also reject it when offered.

So what makes leaders and managers refuse help when they have already admitted they need it?

Is it the fear of looking incompetent? We all are in certain areas of our roles. So you don't need to worry about that.

Is it the fear of opening up and looking into the mirror? Is it the fear of what we are going to find? Well, that is scary, but the solutions to our problems lie where we the least want to look. We are either ready to face them or continue to struggle. The choice is ours.

Is it about what others will think of us if we seek help? I never knew a successful person or, in fact, anybody who never needed and accepted help. What makes you different? In fact, strong leaders are never afraid of help, they constantly ask for it.

Is it about the feedback that the team of that leader will give? I know leaders who need help to face feedback from their teams. I know it is weird because how can you lead them? But it is real. I have coached two senior leaders who asked me to moderate the survey comments to them and present them in a way that won't hurt them. I respected them for this because instead of ignoring the feedback, they actually wanted to know. It was just a matter of delivery. So I made it nicer and more constructive. I always say; it is never the style of the feedback but how it is received will make a difference. Feedback is often poorly presented, and I am ok with that because I understand that we could be better at expressing ourselves.

So leaders and managers, do you really want help or do you just love complaining about not having any? Let us know!

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