Apr 24, 2014

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Latina Cubicle Confidential™ Can You Ask for Help When You Need It?

If you hold a leadership role in an organization, there is often enormous pressure on you to solve current problems, anticipate future ones and to get all your staff pulling in the same direction to meet the challenge.   Do you ask for help? Do you discuss what you need to succeed with your boss, your mentor or your friends? Or do you tend to answer all inquiries saying, “Things are fine”.

Are you running a small business or working to create one? Do you keep discovering one more skill you need, one more part of the business to develop? Some days, you are wearing so many hats, playing so many roles that your list of things to do seems remarkably hard to tackle. Do you ask for help?  Do you talk to other entrepreneurs and ask for ideas and support.  Or do you always tell others, “Business is going great”.

Latinas in leadership and Latina entrepreneurs often have extensive networks of family and friends that have a broad range of skills, experience or resources yet we often hesitate to tap into that network for help and guidance. Why?  Is it pride, embarrassment or just not knowing how to ask for help? Most likely it is all three—depending on the situations we face.  Unfortunately that hesitation to ask, can mean the difference between getting recognized for your work or keeping your small business open.

Many Latinas grow up with a strong sense that it’s just not appropriate to burden others with bad news or personal needs.  Struggling can become all too familiar and soon its an accepted part of the journey to be successful.  The truth is that your resilience rests on building your resources and using them.  We need to ask those in our network for what we need—advice, support, investments, referrals for business or introductions to key people.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness—it’s a sign of knowing what’s necessary for success and seizing the opportunity to make it happen.  That ability to be direct and insightful is actually part of what is required to be seen as a success.

If you find yourself hesitating to ask your colleagues, mentors or even your boss for help, ask what is holding you back?  If you are worried about the impression it makes on others, look at the approach you take when asking for support.  Are you asking for help and at the same time apologizing for needing help?  No way!  You don’t ask for more time on a project by saying “I’m such a terrible planner, can I have 2 more weeks to get this done?”  Instead, you can position this request for more time as benefiting the project, “I don’t believe we’ve done all the analysis needed. I want to make sure that we assess these other factors and that will truly require two more weeks”.

If you are telling your friends how scared you are about possibly closing up your business, this isn’t a request for help—that’s giving voice to fear.  Instead, focus your conversation on what resources you need.  Be honest about what you can afford to spend and look for alternatives for getting the help you need.  Sometimes you can barter with others for the support you need or find an intern who wants to learn from you in exchange for helping you with small tasks.

Your network of friends and family want you to succeed but no one can guess what you need unless you ask.  If you have found the courage needed to hold a leadership role, lead a project or build a business then you owe it to yourself to advocate for your success.  Tell me how you ask for the help you need at Latina Cubicle Confidential™ or join me live at the next LatinaVIDA™.

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MariaHernandez

MariaHernandez

Dr. Maria G. Hernandez has 20 years experience consulting in both the United States and Mexico to senior executives in Fortune 50 companies and facilitated change initiatives for elected officials and their staff. She has worked in academia, business, nonprofits, technology startups, and public agencies. Visit the Latina Cubicle Confidential™ Facebook (link below) or join Dr. Hernandez live at the next LatinaVIDA™-Visibility, Identity, Direction, Action.

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