Ask a Leader for Help and Advice

By | June 11, 2018

[June 11, 2018]  One of the simplest and easiest pieces of advice I can give any up-and-coming leader is, ask a leader for help and advice.  The best way I know to get to the heart of any issue or problem is to find a good leader and ask them for help and advice.

The majority of leaders will only be too happy to assist.  I found this to be an amazing characteristic of leadership; in other words, the willingness to help others out when they come to you.  Don’t be shy or hesitant but also don’t abuse the privilege.  Good leaders didn’t get where they are by being obstructive; they want others to succeed.

Typically, the most common question is either about a) how to solve a particularly difficult problem or, more likely, b) how did the leader succeed where others failed.  Questions of the latter type are:

  1. What is your secret to good leadership?
  2. What was your greatest failure and how did you overcome it?
  3. What questions are you asking yourself lately?
  4. How do you balance family and work?
  5. What is your greatest accomplishment and what did you do right to make it so?
  6. How to you motivate and inspire others to work harder and smarter?
  7. How do you balance risks versus mission accomplishment?
  8. How do you ensure success with your boss (or superiors)?
  9. How do you chose who to promote and reward?
  10. What was your hardest decision you ever made and why?

There are, of course, many more questions but these make up the top ones for trying to get the “secrets” out of successful leaders.

The Boy Scouts have a motto, Be Prepared!  And that is exactly what you should do as a new or seasoned leader, be prepared with a questions already committed to your memory.  When the opportunity arises, you will be ready to ask good questions that a leader will be happy to answer.

For a good reference, see the Forbes article by Mike Myatt on The 50 Most Powerful Questions Leaders Can Ask.1


Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

31 thoughts on “Ask a Leader for Help and Advice

  1. Joey Holmes

    This makes a lot of sense to me. My dad is always telling me that to be a better person, there are folks out there who will help if I ask. Cheers!

  2. Roger Yellowmule

    Basic! Basic! advice for anyone. Thanks.

  3. Gil Johnson

    Gen. Satterfield, I always find your articles to be spot on, thoughtful, and (most importantly) practical. Thanks.

  4. Douglas R. Satterfield Post author

    When I originally was thinking about what kind of advice is the easiest to give and easiest to follow, I immediately thought about the time when I just made the rank of Sergeant in the U.S. Army. I was so bad at it that many of my fellow Sergeants took me aside and sat me down to explain how real leadership worked. It worked because leaders help other people and do their best to make them successful.

    1. Tony B. Custer

      Thank you for bringing your experiences to us.

  5. Lynn Pitts

    Eric, I can sympathize with your situation. I too was a bit shy and not likely to simply ask for help. Now, I know better and my life is far better than it would have been without it.

  6. Eric Coda

    Not that long ago, I too failed to ask for advice from more experienced leaders. When I did, I was surprised that they were very happy to take their time and give me some sage advice and recommendations on how to do my job better. My lesson learned was slow but I got there.

  7. Ronny Fisher

    Whenever good advice (based on extensive experience and thoughtful ideas) is presented, every one should pay attention to it. This advice today is yet so simple that we all know it … at least those reading Gen Satterfield’s blog. Thanks for another good post.

    1. Joe Omerrod

      Yes, you are correct here and as usual Ronny. Thanks.

  8. Dennis Mathes

    Ask for help? Men have some sort of built-in aversion to it. Women do better in asking for directions when lost, men don’t do it for a reason I’m sure some psychologist can tell me. Men learn more by doing things themselves but it is a very painful and perhaps unnecessary step to learning about leadership.

  9. Danny Burkholder

    “Ask a leader for help?” WOW, so easy to do for many of us but I also recognize that some cannot bring themselves to do it. Sad.

  10. Shawn C. Stolarz

    Like Kenny said earlier, people don’t have the guts to ask (moral courage, anyone?). You have to put yourself out there to be a good leader.

  11. Billy Kenningston

    Following your advice really doesn’t take much effort and yet the return on investment in time is returned many fold. I’m personally surprised so many don’t follow your advice.

  12. Jonathan B.

    When I read your blog, it took me back several decades when I was a new manager in a large company that manufactured car parts. I was a floor manager that would not either ask for or listen to more experienced leaders. After a few months, I was “asked” to leave or shape up. I was eventually fired because I wouldn’t or couldn’t’ change.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      I liked your story and it is certainly an example of what happens when we don’t follow this advice.

  13. Janna Faulkner

    Good start to my day when I open my iPad and read up on your blog. Thanks.

  14. Georgie M.

    Very good General, I like it also that you provided several questions that we can ask. Young people should take close heed to your recommendations, otherwise, they will remain behind where they could have been.

  15. Max Foster

    This morning, drinking my coffee and eating a bagel, your article reminds me of the time I was young and thought I knew it all. Boy, how things change. After many mistakes that were avoidable, I finally came around and did exactly as you suggest. I asked others, especially leaders, advice and help. Thank you Gen Satterfield for bringing up this important topic.

    1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

      Thanks Max for your daily dose of practical comments.

  16. Army Captain

    Difficult for those of us who are shy. I had to learn this the hard way.

  17. Kenny Foster

    So simple, yet so often ignored or people just don’t have the guts to ask.

    1. Eddie Ray Anderson,

      Yep! I couldn’t say it better!

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