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Sitting alone in a conference room, I anxiously awaited my one-on-one with my manager, hoping to get help with a project that had me stuck. Time ticked by until he rushed in, 20 minutes late and visibly preoccupied. With only ten minutes left, he quickly covered his agenda and then turned to me, asking, “What do you have for me?”

I tried to articulate my needs, but there wasn’t enough time, and he didn’t have the necessary background to assist. We both left the meeting frustrated—he was concerned about my progress, and I was upset for not getting the support I needed. It’s easy to blame the boss in such scenarios. I mean, he should be there to support and help me right? But realistically, knowing what I knew about his style, I had approached the wrong person for help..

(for the record, it’s been a number of years since I’ve worked for this manager)

And when you ask the wrong person, it frustrates everyone.

Real help came from a coach who walked me through with questions like:

  • “What’s the goal of your project?”
  • “What tasks need completion and what skills are necessary?”
  • “Who on your team has the skills you need?”
  • “Do you need to bring on additional team members?”

This conversation transformed my approach. I learned that understanding who to turn to is crucial:

  • Leadership Teams will help with priorities and influence.
  • Consultants & Coaches will help with strategy and emotional management.
  • Doers & Action Takers are critical for getting the work done.

Last week I asked you to think about a challenge you were facing. This week, think about who is on your people list that can help you with it. Are you asking for the right kind of help from the right people?

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