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Good leaders ask for help

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Leadership consultant and bestselling author Patrick Lencioni says a social psychology course he took in university taught him that the best way to endear yourself to someone is not to offer to do something for them but rather to ask them to do something for you. In the Table Group e-newsletter, he suggests applying that recipe to your staff.

Sit down and think about each of the people who work for you, identifying something about them that you admire – something that, if you are honest, you acknowledge they do better than you. "That shouldn't be hard, because every employee has skills or talents that exceed those of their bosses," he says.

Now tell them what you admire about them. Be specific, and then say you look forward to learning that trait or skill from them. He cites the example of one of his employees who is much more gracious and empathetic than he is. She doesn't jump to conclusions about others and tends to understand where people are coming from; he told her he would like to be more like her that way. Another staffer is steady and disciplined about how he plans for the future and manages money for his family; Mr. Lencioni wants to learn that skill from him.

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"I am convinced that I have built much stronger relationships with each of these people, and contributed to their sense of confidence and importance, by genuinely expressing my admiration for them and asking for their assistance," he says.

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