How do you judge if a coworker is as good as her word? How do you know whom to trust? In a recent CBODN book club discussion, Janice Shack-Marquez shared data presented in social science researcher Brené Brown’s latest book, Dare to Lead. When 1000 leaders are asked what makes them trust a coworker, can you guess what the #1 answer is?
The survey results show that when employees ask for help, this indicates to their leadership that they are trustworthy. At first, this may seem counterintuitive. In a “fake-it-until-you-make-it” world, we want to show up as intelligent, capable, and knowledgeable—especially in front of our own bosses. So why does asking for help build trust, rather than erode it?
How Does Asking for Help Build Trust?
Interesting, huh? I have a hypothesis to run by you—just to get the discussion going.
It could be that, when an employee admits she needs help, the leader knows she’s not trying to hide information. The call for help reassures the leader that if the employee runs into a problem that she can’t handle on her own, she won’t try to haphazardly address it, but instead will consult the leader. This also shows the leader that she has the best interest of others in mind, rather than just focusing on herself. Over time, the leader can believe this employee when she says, “I got this.” Even for a complex or particularly high-stakes task, the leader is more inclined to be hands off.
There is, of course, some fine-print that accompanies the hypothesis. For example:
Disclaimer aside, the fact that “asking for help” made it to the top of the survey results was really eye opening and refreshing to hear. Hopefully, this little piece of data puts you at ease the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or over your head and need to reach out for help. And if you are not the type to reach out, I hope this will help you reconsider.
TIPS on Asking for Help
Sometimes it’s hard to ask for help. Here are some conversation starters to help you ask for help across different situations.