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How Can I Help?

Updated: Jun 26, 2022

There is a famous line in a movie series that represents the very idea of leadership: “How Can I Help?”

It got me thinking about help. I used to define help as offering my support to someone to achieve something they want. But this is a very narrow definition of help, especially as it’s highly linked to the achievement of a specific outcome. Therefore, it’s a preconceived idea: one that assumes that we know exactly what we want and need.

Over the last years, the contexts, settings and cultures I have been exposed to were different. In transformations, I have seen that we rarely know exactly what we need. As a new reality unfolds, what we need also changes.

While help seems best applied to a personal relationship, organisations are a network of relationships. Organisations are the most obvious place where interdependence sits at the core of any great outcome.

So here is how I redefined my notion of helping someone:

  1. offering my support, knowledge or resources to someone to achieve something they want, PLUS

  2. creating a level of trust where the truth can be surfaced and discussed

  3. respecting someone’s agency of finding their own answers, even when it’s difficult

  4. sharing a potentially challenging perspective that uncovers blind spots or new critical information

  5. questioning myself before I speak if what I am going to say serves me or them

  6. sharing my story in a humble way as a data source for their decision making

  7. saying YES and NO when I mean it

  8. holding two apparently opposing ideas in mind and knowing that they can both be true and complementary

  9. letting someone know that they are not alone in their quest

  10. just being there for someone who needs my presence, not my opinion.

With this new definition, my perspective over the past changed. I have come to see that, throughout my career, I have received much more help than I saw at that moment.

How do you help?


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