Smart Help – 7 Questions to Ask Before Helping

Successful leaders help people, but helping has disadvantages you might not see.

Don’t rush to help. Strength rises to challenges. Don’t get in the way. Ease bores talented people. Challenge brings out people’s best.

Leaders who thrive learn how to put weight on people, without overwhelming them.

Leadership quote: Successful leaders help people. Helping has disadvantages you might not see. Image of a person holding grapefruit slices over their eyes.

10 hidden disadvantages of helping poorly:

  1. Rejection. Stepping in suggests people may be incapable.
  2. Trust. Offering unrequested help may hint you don’t trust people.
  3. Respect. Over-helping makes people feel disrespected.
  4. Competence. People may question their own competence.
  5. Incompetence. Struggle strengthens people.
  6. Relevance. If people are relevant, why are you jumping in to do their job for them?
  7. Responsibility. Constantly bailing out people is your stamp of approval on failure.
  8. Ignorance. When you repeatedly cover for someone’s failure they don’t learn from failure.
  9. Criticism. Unrequested help sometimes feels like criticism.
  10. Dependency. Responsibility is better than dependency.
The goal of helping is enabling, not more helping. Image of a person doing pullups.

Smart Help – 7 questions to ask before helping:

Unneeded help is harmful.

#1. Clarify expectations.

Before helping ask, “If things turn out perfectly what will be the result?” Ask this when you think goals need clarification.

#2. Expect initiative.

Before helping always ask, “What have you tried?”

#3. Honor the team.

Before helping ask, “Who on the team is great?”

Tip: Teach people to help each other.

#4. Respect experience.

Before helping ask, “What have you learned in past situations like this?”

#5. Include self-reflection.

Before helping ask, “How might you have contributed to this situation?” Reflect on attitudes and actions.

Image of a partially wilted sunflower.

#6. Expand perspective.

When you help what are you trying to accomplish for individuals? For the team? For yourself?

#7. Evaluate challenge.

Before helping ask, “How challenging is this situation for you on a scale of 1:10?”

Examine yourself before helping:

Sometimes we help because it makes us feel important. Your job is to believe others are important.

What questions would you ask before helping?

Which of the above questions seem most relevant to you?

The Goal of Helping is Enabling, Not More Helping

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