Those are not words that flow easily from our mouths as leaders. But maybe they should be.
I recently took an international business trip. It involved 6 flights, 4 trams, 4 shuttle busses and 2 taxi cabs in order to get to where we needed to be. I have taken many international flights in my line of work. And I am accustomed to many of the rigors of travel. But, for the first time in 13 years of international business travel, I had to ask for help to get from one gate to the next to make my final connecting flight on the way home.
I arrived at Liberty in Newark, NJ late last Thursday afternoon and by the time I cleared customs and boarded the tram and got to my gate at the next terminal they were already boarding the flight. Imagine my surprise to see a nearly empty gate. What I discovered at the gate was that United had decided to change the departure gate to the other side of the terminal. My gate was no longer Gate 125. It was Gate 75. I was not going to make it.
But at my age and after already flying for almost 10 hours I made the tactical decision to seek assistance in reaching my goal. My goal was to get home and see my family. And I did not have enough strength to get from Gate 125 to 75 in time to make my flight. So I approached the counter and requested one of those electric carts that you see in airports. You know, the ones that annoy you as you are trying to walk to your gate!
But it was clear to me that in order to achieve my goal I had to reach out for help. This is the first time I have ever taken a ride in one of those carts. But my desire to get home to my family outweighed any reasons that I may have had to try to make it on my own.
So what is the leadership point here?
It is this. Leaders recognize their limitations and seek help when necessary.
How many times do we avoid asking for help when we are clearly in need of it? And what are the reasons that we don’t ask for help? Is it pride? Is it arrogance? Is it a false sense of our own abilities?
Leaders, take a real look at your abilities. Recognize your limitations. Acknowledge that leadership does not equate to being an expert in everything! And where you see some gaps, reach out for help. Take a ride on the proverbial electric cart and find mentoring or coaching resources to help you in those areas.
And, by the way, I am getting on another airplane in a few hours. So . . . “Beep beep! Coming through!”
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