1. Hader, Richard RN, CNA, CHE, CPHQ, PhD, FAAN, Editor-in-Chief

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Once we think we've seen, heard, and done it all, we're suddenly faced with an intimidating challenge that leaves us vulnerable to failure. Not wanting to draw attention to our insecurity, we awkwardly proceed, even though we're acutely aware that we should be asking for guidance and assistance. Fear of looking bad in the eyes of our staff, peers, or boss, or qualities such as arrogance and naivete are factors that may keep us from asking for help. Errors or poor decisions are far more acceptable if the leader is prudent in collaborating with others prior to taking action. There's always a benefit in asking others for their input.

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Being a leader doesn't mean you're supposed to know everything. New challenges are always lurking that require us to seek opinions and facts from others to determine an appropriate plan to solve the issue. Our best resource to help us through new challenges is our staff. Collectively, your team members have many more years of experience between them than you'll ever attain. Seeking their suggestions and point of view enables you to draw upon information that may not have been available had you not asked. Even if your staff members aren't pleased with your final stance on a matter, you'll be supported and respected if they know you've sought their consultation prior to rendering a decision.


Chances are that if you're dealing with a new situation, one of your colleagues has previously dealt with the same or similar issue. Whether you seek counsel from an internal colleague, network with a professional acquaintance, or pose the question on a listserv from your professional organization, it's likely that someone can share an experience that'll further develop your arsenal of suggestions prior to rendering a decision. Conducting a literature or Internet search is useful to quickly gather information that might enable you to solve your own situation.


"I'm afraid my boss will think I'm stupid if I keep asking questions," is a fear of many leaders. On the contrary, your boss will only think less of your competence if you complete an assignment incorrectly and didn't ask for clarification. Pretending to your boss that you know how to complete a task when you don't is dangerous. As you're in your role to support your team members, so too is your boss. Leaders like to coach, teach, and be asked for their advice. Failing to seek your supervisor's ideas won't only jeopardize a favorable outcome, but could lead to an erosion of confidence in your abilities going forward.


If you believe that you've come to the point in your career that you don't need to ask others for help, it's time for you to evaluate if you're suited for your current role. Pompous actions, especially those with poor outcomes, are easily recognized and can severely impede your ability to manage. A leader's job is to constantly learn and be challenged. Even if you're the most seasoned and brightest manager within your organization, it's vital to remain humble in your attitude and approach. There's always room for improvement. Failing to recognize the next level of goal attainment is a disservice to both your organization and those whom you lead.


Not knowing isn't an excuse for failure. Whether you're a novice manager or a seasoned executive, failing to understand the consequences of your actions isn't tolerated when due diligence hasn't been conducted. Asking for help, horizontal and vertical delegation, and "managing up" are all tools available to you. Use them wisely to augment your chance for success.


Richard Hader


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