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As almost all business leaders have probably understood, teamwork is invaluable to the bottom line and should never be underestimated. Collaboration is an engine for collaboration and better performance and results. It follows that leaders often have the willingness and desire to help teammates, but the most effective of them also understand that being willing is not enough – that they need to make colleagues feel comfortable seeking help by presenting themselves. as welcoming and approachable.
That’s why I’ve started asking my team, “How can I help?” on a regular basis, and what initially seemed like a simple question has had a material and positive impact on both company culture and performance. Here are some of the effects:
1. Team members feel supported
How many times have you heard leadership say, “My door is always open?” – a common expression that expresses a willingness to help when needed. But while often spoken with positive intentions, this blanket statement fails to encourage colleagues to raise their hands for support.
Instead, be more direct in your approach by asking: how you can help. Ask the question during one-on-one conversations with direct reports or when checking the progress of a project. You’ll find it reassures employees that they have support and feel comfortable discussing needs, leading to happier individual employees and a boost in overall morale.
2. Provides a sense of value
Questions “How can I help?” not only benefits the recipient of the question, but also leaders, who typically face responsibilities that can leave them feeling disconnected from teams and their day-to-day work. By taking this approach, you will remind yourself of the value you are adding to your business.
I’ve found it incredibly rewarding when colleagues tell me how I can be helpful and better ensure their success. The collaboration that often follows these conversations strengthens my relationships with colleagues and reassures me that I too am a valuable contributor.
Related: How Gracious Leadership Can Improve Business Performance
3. Builds Communication Skills
As mentioned above, general statements often fail to promote a welcoming corporate culture. While “My door is always open” and “How can I help?” may have the same intent behind them, they generate vastly different responses. Adjusting to a more direct approach gives clarity and helps you understand how a team thinks. Over time you realize that the silence caused by the previous statement was not an indication that colleagues did not need help, but that they were not sure how to ask for it and/or felt that they would be considered incompetent if she did. Part of being an effective leader is adapting to and embracing your team’s different communication styles.
4. Leads to Wider Opportunities
The early stages of a career are usually filled with chasing dreams and unlocking opportunities. However, there is a common misconception that once you are a leader, you have knowledge and access to all those desired opportunities. There will always be projects that go on without you, even at the leadership level. This may be because their associated work is considered below your salary or outside your area of expertise.
People who have started their career are often advised that asking others how you can help will lead to more opportunities, and this approach is something you should embrace. during your career. Even at the leadership level, asking colleagues if they need help can lead to new opportunities that would otherwise have been missed.
Related: 3 Essential Characteristics That Make for Great Business Leadership
5. Produces stronger results
Think back to a time when you were solely responsible for completing a project. Spent too many hours staring at a proposal, or running into a roadblock coming up with a creative brief? In such cases, the needed results would probably have been enhanced by fresh perspective and collaboration with colleagues. In my experience, taking initiative to collaborate on how you can help leads to more robust results and higher quality work.