How Authentic Leaders Know When to Ask For Help?

Lison Mage
6 min readJun 14

Humans are sense-making creatures. We like to find patterns in what might appear random or complex — and I am no exception.

As I went on coaching more and more individuals, this train of thoughts led me to explore how they think, in particular the excess of thoughts (or overthinking) which then gave birth to my first book.

And as I kept on engaging with leaders of all sorts through my work, I noticed another trend — a core belief. These competent, smart, knowledgeable people often do everything themselves, even when they probably should not.

They rarely ask for help.

Even when they are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, they are willing to push through, persevere and get things done by themselves. It might be commendable in the eyes of many, but actually, it is most often detrimental to their health, performance or even both.

We can do everything, but we will not be good — even less so great — at everything we do. At best, it will be average. But what is most likely is that we end up dropping the ball or have poor results because, let’s face it, they are things we are terrible at.

At times, I found that the root of this behaviour is — especially for leaders — a reluctance to show vulnerabilities. The internal dialogue is that I cannot be bad at something as it will directly reflect on who I am.

If I cannot bake pancakes, I’m a bad mom. If I struggle to understand this technical concept, I am a bad team leader. And so forth.

And yet, being vulnerable, sharing openly with others our weaknesses contribute to being perceived as authentic. And this authenticity displayed by leaders directly correlates with higher levels of employee job satisfaction, engagement and workplace happiness.

Another reason leading us not to ask for help is a simple miscalculation. We solely evaluate the direct costs of doing something, where we can spend our time instead of money (e.g. paying someone).

But we often don’t look at the indirect costs, such as missed opportunities. If we were not spending our time doing this activity, what could we be doing instead? Would it have been more productive?

Lison Mage

I help people & teams lead strategic change and make better decisions. Read my book on Overthinking: