As leaders we tend to think we’ve got to have it all together – and when we don’t it can feel very lonely at the top. When I’m in that funk, reaching out for help can mean the difference between spiraling further down or catching my footing and moving forward.
Here are five places to go for help as a leader (listed in descending order of intimacy):
1. Your Mentor. Don’t have one? Get one. Now. Don’t wait. It’s easier than you think. Look around for someone who 1) you admire and 2) cares about you. Approach them and ask if they’d be interested in mentoring you. Most people would be flattered you asked. Mentors are key because they add an outside – and usually higher – perspective to the issues we struggle with.
2. Your Advisers. Your advisers could be anyone from an executive coach or business consultant to your attorney. Advisers are powerful for two reasons: 1) They provide specific advice in narrow fields of expertise. 2) They can provide an objective perspective that no one deeply involved in the situation can see.
3. Your Peers. Talk to your close friends and colleagues – especially if they work in other industries. While they may not understand everything you share, they may have some unique perspectives on the issues you’re dealing with.
4. Your Staff. Look for those who can handle more authority and responsibility, then give it to them. Trust them more and they’ll trust you more. Facing a tough decision? You don’t have to have all the answers! Time permitting, facilitate a brainstorming session with your team to generate possible solutions.
5. Your Contractors. If you know there are better things for you and your staff to be doing, then outsource the work that is bogging you down. In today’s economy I guarantee you can find people who can do it better, faster, and cheaper than you!
Obviously every issue has it’s own level of sensitivity and many issues would be inappropriate to share with some of these groups. Use your judgment. The important thing is that you reach out to someone for help. Don’t be fooled by the myth that great leaders have it all together all the time. If anything, that mindset leads to mediocrity as a leader – not greatness!
Where do you go for help when you’re overwhelmed as a leader?