3 Ways to Lean on People Without Being Needy
There’s a word for the place where people lean on each other, community.
I should have leaned on more people. The lid on potential isn’t lack of talent. It’s reluctance to lean on people.
The person who goes the farthest gets the most help.
Walking alone is a short-term strategy.
3 ways to lean on people:
#1. Know what you don’t do well.
Talent is a beginning. Compensating for the talents you don’t have creates explosive opportunities.
The list of things you don’t do well is miles longer than the talents you have.
#2. Be confident with humility.
The fear of not knowing makes you stupid.
Let others be smart. When someone makes a suggestion, explore how to implement it. Don’t reject it quickly.
#3. Invite others to lean on you.
Bill Withers sang:
“Lean on me
When you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on…
For it won’t be long
Till I’m gonna need somebody to lean on”
A person with a struggle is an opportunity, not a burden.
Your ‘lean on’ list:
Record the names of all the people you lean on. I hope it’s longer than you expect. Does it fill your heart with gratitude?
A short ‘lean on’ list leads to bitterness. You feel alone and unappreciated in the world.
A long ‘lean on’ list expands your leadership, as long as you’re not needy and looking for sympathy.
The difference between ‘leaning on’ and being needy is passion to grow and stand without help.
If I could go back and change one thing about my journey, I would learn to lean on people. I was eager for people to lean on me and reluctant to lean on people. The word for that is self-limiting arrogance.
How might leaders lean on people?
For me “lean on” is asking others for:
Many people go to the same 5 or so people for help and guidance. Expand your “lean on” list to 20. Include experts in some of the new areas were you will need help in the future.
Often times, I have seen folks lean on those they like rather than those they respect. That is, they lean on their friends whose knowledge, skills, and abilities are in sync with their own rather than others whose knowledge, skills, and abilities are the ones they are missing.
I love this quote from an African proverb: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
This was very insightful. Makes me think I am prioritizing the wrong things as a follower in training! I love the idea… “Let others be smart. Fear of not knowing makes you stupid.” Thanks for this article. Kinda put me in my place a bit! Exactly what is needed!
Dan, you’ve captured key principles I finally learned in the last few years of my manager role (I’m retiring this month). Leaning on others in their strengths (and my weaknesses) demonstrates/builds trust and affirmation, gives others permission to grow and develop their own leadership skills rather than compete, reduces stress (believe it or not) and significantly expands the team’s effectiveness as well as my own. I’m wrapping up with a tremendous sense of accomplishment, for which I’m deeply grateful. I’m looking forward to applying these principles in the next phase of my life.
Your post reminds me of the old adage “If you want to go fast, go alone; but, if you want to go farther, go with others.” Lean on others, engage others, and seek the help of others is a way to bolster everyone – one self, one’s team, and one’s company (substitute house of worship, community group, etc, for the last entity).
As always, another great post. Thanks, Dan.
Be humble to learn from others and wise enough to lean on them!