If you are in a leadership role, chances are you believe it’s better to give than to receive.
Which means you also probably believe you should
… always be competent
… never make mistakes
… always be strong
and that you should only receive when you have something to give in return.
The problem with this attitude is that when you are in a situation where you don’t have a choice and must receive, you are likely to feel
We hear “it’s better to give than to receive” but the truth is:
It’s easier to give than to receive, but not always better.
Giving when people can help themselves takes away their power and opportunity to grow, and keeps them dependent. Click to Tweet
It may be hard to watch the butterfly struggle to emerge from its cocoon. But if you try to help, you will cripple it. Your attempts to shield your children may prevent them from learning a valuable lesson.
You might believe that being a servant leaders means helping your team. But helping them by doing the tough work for them removes the opportunity for them to break through and realize their full potential.
Nine Important Reasons It’s Better to Receive Than to Give
1. It reminds you that you’re not in charge.
2. It keeps you humble.
3. You allow others the opportunity to feel the pleasure of giving.
4. You get to experience gratitude.
5. You develop a realistic self-image.
6. You create a space for others to shine.
7. You learn what strength really is.
8. You become a more well-rounded person.
9. Your relationships become richer.
Asking for help when you need it is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Its a paradox ➤ strong leaders ask for help.
There’s a time to give and a time to receive. When it’s your time to receive, simply say “thank you” … and allow yourself to experience the pleasure of gratitude that naturally arises.
This is even more important for middle managers on up…the higher you go up the less you can know for sure. In our complex, ambiguous, unpredictable world, the leader that engages his leaders to discover solutions together will be more successful than the lone ranger. Thanks for a clear and powerful post.
Good point, Marcia. Thanks for your thoughts.
As is so often the case, Jesse, your message applies to our lives in general not just the times we are in leadership roles. Thanks for the wise reminder.
What’s true for one aspect of our lives applies to all aspects. Glad you named that, MG.
Those who know how and when to receive have more to give. The storehouse is replenished by receiving as well as giving. The two belong together, hand in hand, like threads of the same fabric, inextricably woven together. It is in giving that we receive, often more than we give thus the multiple effect.
True and beautifully said. It becomes a self-reinforcing positive spiral.
Great point, Jesse. The evidence shows that asking for help also creates strong social bonds. When people give us advice, they feel compelled to help us make that advice work. Adam Grant wrote about this in his book Give and Take. Keep up the great work! Bret
Let’s make that reason #10. Thanks, Bret.
Absolutely spot on, Jesse. A strong leader will know their limits, and not mask them. In facts, this reaching out actually builds trust among others.
Great pearls of wisdom, a post every leader should read!
One of the benefits is that it builds trust. Thanks for making this important point, Paul.
Great article. Thanks for sharing it. A leader who doesn’t allow his/her subordinate managers to lead hurts production too. Because the Managers just wait to be told what to do instead of making decisions on their own. Instead of making the decisions for them a strong leader would ask “How would you handle it?”
Indeed. There’s a strong correlation between asking for help when you need it and letting go of control. Leaders who have difficulty letting go of control and allowing others to lead will never have a high performance team. Thanks for deepening the conversation, Woody.
What I love about this post is the point about allowing others to shine. Leaders also develop others when they ask for help. The world is far too complex and no one person can know everything. Hence the rise of reverse mentorship where younger employees are teacher the old guard about everything from social media to effective blogging. We also know that Millennials really WANT to be asked their opinion and want to be involved.
Great post. Thanks, Jesse. You always teach me:)
You remind me that you need to believe that people can help before you ask for help. You raise two important underlying truths – that the world is too complex for one person to know everything and that when people are asked to help, they rise to the occasion. Thanks for sharing your insights, Eileen.
A point of view which should be instilled in/required of all people when they enter any position of authority over others. People already in that work probably have some useful insights. This attitude also contributes to a teamwork process which encourages ideas and discussion to find the best practices, and education for all involved.
I am now retired, but have experienced great personal frustration (as well as disrespect and denegration) from new managers, placed in a position of authority but inexperienced and unable to have the least thought that they might need to consult people doing the job for years.
So, I have come to believe that the workplace has a responsibility to present all new managers with this way of thinking.
I agree this is a real concern, Carol. Setting the expectation that you should ask for help and that help should be provided needs to be instilled into the culture and there need to be supportive systems and processes in place for it to work.
Another amazing post. I think that a genuíno leaderrs who Is used to help others and provide honest feedback doesn’t feel akward when it is time to receite. On the contrary, people feel encouraged to help them.
It’s true that if you don’t give, it’s hard to expect to receive when you do need it. Many people are surprised at how eager people are to help them when they ask for help.
The thought going through my mind as I read this post was “teamwork.” The more a leader asks for help, the greater the opportunity for the individual to strengthen the team. Everyone contributing strengthens the chain of leadership and teamwork.
Indeed, asking for help and teamwork are of the same fabric. Thanks for that insight, John.
Jesse, perhaps you’ve heard or read about my #1 favorite question to ask a leader who may be in a tough place and is taking the world on her shoulders: “Who can help?”. I’m almost always surprised at their surprise at this question – and sometimes their ability to avoid answering it!
One of the benefits of asking others for help is that there often appears a new way of looking at something that they hadn’t thought of. The trick is for them to be open to what they hear.
Great points, Mary Jo. This is a belief that needs to be confronted as it opens the door to new possibilities and new ways of seeing the situation. You remind me although we often associate this idea with men, many women adopt it also, especially in the United States.
Interesting post. I have some thoughts of course…
First, I have to admit that I don’t believe in the concept of servant leadership. I may just have problems with the title; I’m not quite sure right now…
Second, whereas I understand the point about being willing to ask for help, in an odd way I think it’s almost as important to be willing to accept help. I make the distinction, as a consultant, that often I’ve been asked to come in, do an evaluation, give the evaluation, then leave, only to find out that nothing I recommended was put into place.
That’s the point where, sometimes, ego is unwilling to let go and acknowledge that someone else might have a good idea or has found something wrong that needs to be addressed. Thus, just asking for help means nothing if one isn’t willing to at least look at the help offered and possibly use it.
Good points, Mitch. Accepting help that’s offered, whether it’s asked for or not, is a sign of strength, not weakness. Many people are confused about that. I agree it’s an issue of ego. I think that’s where the servant leadership folk are on target – they are focused on serving other instead of being self-serving.
This is a very interesting perspective on leadership that I have not ever encountered. I think this is a very insightful article and enjoyed it very much. Leaders are hired and expected to offer help, not necessarily receive it. But those leaders that actively listen to their employees are also known as strong leaders. And by actively listening it could be perceived as receiving help in a way. Keep up the great posts!
I appreciate your thoughts on listening, Megan. I agree that when the intention is to understand, listening is receiving.
Very interesting subject. As it turns out I think most of the managers that are new in their role are afraid to ask for help, they feel that it will prove their are not fit for a management position and that inflates a high level of frustration. It takes self confidence to reach out and ask for help. This also leads to the point where manipulative and lead by an iron hand tactics backfire.Good post , challenging topic.
The more insecure someone feels, the less likely they are to ask for help. In part it’s a non-productive instinctual response, like the deer-in-the-headlight response. And in part, it’s cultural. In any case, we need to recognize it as non-productive and get help when we need it. Great point about how the over-control of oneself leads to over-controlling in general, which indeed does backfire.