5 for 5 blog – “How can I help?”

25 Jan


In the past few years, I have had several opportunities to present on initiatives, change opportunities, and new business strategies. Sometimes, the audience is a group of peers, often it was my direct manager, and on a few occasions the business’ C-level leadership. At the wrap up of nearly every presentation, I have heard the same questions “How can I (we) help?”

If we set aside whether those offers were always genuine, I want to encourage every leader to embrace the opportunity to answer that question. Admittedly, I have been caught unprepared on a few occasions, but now whether it is me or my team presenting, we always walk in with a ready, thoughtful response. Here are a few things you could think about asking for:

  • Senior level sponsorship/mentoring/coaching – Sometimes we are presenting ideas that are far enough on the fringe that we might not know all of the steps to getting from point A to point B. Asking for someone from the senior staff to be a sounding board could be exactly what the team needs. NOTE: If you ask for this, be prepared to take the tough (ideally constructive) feedback.
  • “A window of time” Or “Opportunity” – Here I am mainly thinking about needing space to try a process or service out before sending it out to the masses. While this could fall under asking for resources, as mentioned below you need to be very specific about your needs and asking for time with new users or time on a production line could be facilitated right from that meeting.
  • Resources – This could mean long term employees or equipment. It could mean the right support staff to develop a product or service in the short term. Regardless what you need, be specific and share WHY they will help and how it is important. Most people will shy away from this because it means constraints and accountability…but that is exactly what a senior staff would be looking for if they can grant your request.
  • A follow up – I have to say I have not used this as much as I should but I believe asking for a follow up, especially if presenting to C-level shows commitment and confidence.

Again, regardless of whether the person asking in genuine it is critical that you as the leader, to represent your team, be prepared with a solid, and prompt response. Letting the opportunity go by is more than just a miss, it is a waste. Most senior leaders’ minds are off and running sometimes before you say thank you. Again, be prepared, be specific, be committed to results. Even if you can’t get your full wish list laid out there, you will leave a strong impression and plant the seeds to revisit the request from a much better position than never having asked in the first place.

P.S. One of the best ways to begin building a relationship with another organization is to ask that very same question: “How can I help?”

Here are this week’s 5 for 5 articles:

Fear is easy, hope is real – by Seth Godin – via @thisissethsblog

More Than a Coach – by NY Giants players – via The Players Tribune

News Flash: Too Much Planning is Just as Bad as Procrastination – by Lily Herman – via The Muse

A 10-Year Study Reveals What Great Executives Know and Do – by Ron Carucci – via HBR

My 3 Words for 2016 – by Chris Brogan – via chrisborgan.com

all the best, kevin