In most cases, rising to the top of business is a long and arduous journey along myriad paths. Somewhere along the line, you will have asked for help from a colleague or mentor or even someone entirely unconnected to your industry. These moments are no reflection on your expertise, your work ethic or your intellect. Sometimes, factors amalgamate to confound you because business is dynamic and with progress comes new problems. So why is it that many CEOs find it difficult to ask for help?
Put aside the ego
In short, it boils down to perception and ego. No CEO wants to appear weak or have their authority challenged and yet the irony is that not asking for help does exactly that. Reaching out to colleagues or associates for help shows that you are a collaborative person, that you are not blinded by your ego or cognitive biases and that you don’t mind admitting that there are areas of your business where others are far more knowledgable than you are. It also signals to your colleagues that you value them and you listen to what they have to say. This last point alone is critical to maintaining a happy and incentivised workplace.
Who can CEOs ask for help?
That said, asking for help is not always easy when you’re the person at the top. You assume a position that is by and large quite lonely. Colleagues are also prone to expect you to have all the answers, or worse, go along with your solutions rather than challenge them, even when they think they might have a better method in mind. Thus, cultivating a degree of openness and trust is vital. C-suite partners and even employees right the way through the company should feel comfortable offering their support and the CEO should feel equally comfortable accepting it. By doing so it fosters a culture of continual learning and knowledge sharing, helping to break down silo structures and boost overall employee engagement.
Your team expect you to be decisive, strong-willed but also adaptable. If your business is entering choppy waters it pays to have as much input as possible to make or correct decisions. It’s important though to ask for help from a position of resourcefulness, rather than abject helplessness. Going to your colleagues as the last resort when things are really desperate does not foster great relationships, but by being open to input from the very start and being honest with your limitations, you will be seen as a flexible and approachable CEO who truly values those around them.
If you need guidance, whether it’s about executive hires, growth strategy or organisation structures, speak to one of our team today.