Why effective leaders aren’t afraid to ask for help

Few things will help you progress your career as effectively as maintaining active and mutually supportive networks. When and why should we call on them for guidance and support?

Dr Erik Lithander, Pro Vice-Chancellor & Vice-President at Bristol University explains why asking for help makes us better leaders, why seeking the perspectives of people with different opinions to our own is critical, and the life-changing power of mentorship.

The ability to pick up the phone or fire off an email to a friend or colleague who may have experienced a similar situation to one you need help with, and asking them for guidance and advice is worth its weight in gold.

Ensuring that your networks are composed of a mix of cultural, political and social perspectives will make them even more powerful; it is important to hear the advice and perspectives of dissenting voices.

You will necessarily find that some people in your networks transition to becoming mentors, and you should go out of your way to make them feel appreciated. I have called upon my mentors at every stage of my career, and have sought their wise counsel at every critical juncture when a major decision about my future was at play.

Remember that receiving mentorship comes with an obligation to also providing it: keep your eyes open for junior colleagues who may benefit from the lessons of your own experiences. Some day, those junior colleagues may be in a position to help you in return. Think of it as a self-perpetuating ecosystem of support.

We move forward better when we all move forward together.

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