As a leader, you may get the sense that others expect you to have all the answers. However, the reality is that no one can solve every problem on their own. When leaders are too close to a problem or have limited experience in a particular area, it can be challenging to see issues from all angles and identify the best path forward. Having peers who can see things from outside and differing perspectives can often lead to breakthroughs in finding new solutions and more effective strategies.
Unfortunately, day-to-day behaviors and current approaches can make it difficult for leaders to seek help when needed. Below, we explore ten obstacles and provide some strategies for overcoming them.
1. Failing to recognize the situation or issue
“I’m doing everything by the book. I don’t know how someone else could help me.”
One of the biggest obstacles to seeking help is failing to recognize the true nature of a situation or issue. It’s not uncommon for problems to be masked as something else, leading to confusion and ineffective responses. To overcome this obstacle, it’s important to approach situations with an open mind, gather as much information as possible, and be willing to consider multiple perspectives.
2. Doing the same thing over and over
“We have a process that’s tried and true. Spending time and resources looking for something new would be inefficient.”
Another obstacle to seeking help is the tendency to rely on familiar strategies and techniques, even if they’re not producing the same results as in the past. Industries are changing rapidly, and while It’s comfortable to stick to what’s worked in the past, this can block the potential for innovation and preparation for new opportunities. By settling for “good enough” results, you may miss opportunities to achieve even greater success. This is why it’s important to regularly assess your strategies and be open to new approaches. Through this practice, you can stay ahead of changing circumstances and be poised to adapt and grow.
3. Juggling too many competing priorities
“It feels like I’m drinking water out of a fire hose. I don’t have time to seek out help. I just have to get through this.”
Leaders often have a lot on their plate, making it difficult to focus on the most important issues. To overcome this, it’s critical to make time for reflection. Having a clear plan for the future can help decide what to prioritize and where to delegate, and as problems arise, a solid strategy can also help determine where to shift needed resources.
4. Believing that the status quo is the “best it will be”
“Things aren’t as great as I’d hoped, but I really don’t see how they could be any better.”
Like #2, status quo acceptance lowers expectations and creates the belief that how things are done is the best it can be. However, this dangerous mindset ignores that the world is constantly evolving—every day, there are new problems to solve and new solutions presented. Being open to the possibility of change, encouraging innovation, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement are all keys to embracing the changes and leading a successful team.
5. Feeling inadequate as if you should know how to solve the problem on your own
“I was hired because of my expertise, but I feel like I’m drowning. If I ask for help, everyone will know I’m a fraud.”
Imposter syndrome is masked in this obstacle. When struggling to identify a solution, it’s easy to feel inadequate and doubt one’s abilities. However, asking for help is never a sign of weakness or failure—it’s a strength. Pulling diverse thinkers into your circle to brainstorm and present different ideas is central to leadership and allows for better decision-making and overall company performance.
6. Fearing failure
“If I tell someone about my idea or plan and fail, the secret is out.”
It’s important to acknowledge and plan for risks, but sometimes fear of a plan or idea failing can be so strong that it paralyzes leaders, preventing them from taking action. However, a reluctance to take risks or try new things can ultimately limit growth and innovation within an organization. It’s important for leaders to recognize that failure is a natural part of the learning process. Most successful leaders fail many times before achieving their goals, but each time is a ‘fall forward’, taking the learnings and applying them to the next solution. By embracing the possibility of failure and using it as an opportunity to learn and grow, leaders can break through the fear barrier and achieve greater success in their roles.
7. Avoiding rejection
“What if the person I reach out to for help doesn’t think my idea is of value?”
Hesitancy to ask for help because a request or concern might be dismissed as unimportant is incredibly common. However, avoiding reaching out can limit a leader’s growth and potential. Leaders may miss valuable insights and perspectives that lead to better decisions by not seeking support. Overcoming the fear of rejection requires embracing feedback, even when it feels uncomfortable. It may feel like rejection, but the information learned is an opportunity to grow a more collaborative work environment.
8. Steering clear of emotional discomfort
“If I talk about this with someone else, they might ask questions I’d rather not answer.”
Confronting one’s own feelings or biases can be uncomfortable and challenging, but avoiding emotional discomfort can limit a leader’s ability to make effective decisions or create positive change within their organization. Overcoming the fear of emotional discomfort requires a willingness to be vulnerable and open to new perspectives. By acknowledging difficult issues and working through the challenging emotional feelings that may arise, leaders can better understand themselves and set aside outdated thinking and assumptions, allowing them to make more informed and effective decisions.
9. Struggling to admit being wrong
“I grew this company from the ground up. We’ve had success for years. We’re in such a niche area, there’s no way there could be a better way to do things.”
It can be difficult to admit that a strategy you created isn’t working. Our sense of self is often attached to our ideas. Furthermore, it can be humbling to learn new skills when other practices have been in place for years. While uncomfortable, admitting something is wrong or not working is a natural part of the learning process.
10. Staying in a tactical vs. strategic mindset
“I’m getting everything on my to-do list checked off. I’m doing well! I don’t need help.”
Finally, leaders may be reluctant to seek help because they are too focused on the never-ending day-to-day tasks and problems and don’t see that they are left without a plan for the future. To overcome this obstacle, leaders must seek new perspectives and be willing to step back to look ahead.
Seeking support is an essential part of being a successful leader. At 4A Ventures, we understand the challenges that leaders face. With a wealth of experience partnering with organizations, we have the perspective to guide you through navigating the most complex challenges. We are passionate about building world-class companies and can support you with leadership skills, strategic planning, process improvement, or team building.
Reach out to learn more about how we can help you overcome obstacles and achieve your full potential!