What do CEOs and new hires have in common?
A reluctance to ask for help.
CEOs and senior executives want to demonstrate that they are in control. To ask for help, they think, may make them look weak. New hires don’t want to appear “stupid,” so they stay still.
The failure to ask for help has dire consequences. For an executive, an inability to ask for assistance can derail a project, perhaps fatally. For a new hire, reluctance to ask for guidance can mean toiling in the dark and potentially ending with doing things wrong.
Wayne Baker itemizes this reluctance to ask for assistance in his new book “All You Have to Do Is Ask.” He attributes multiple reasons:
Underestimating other people’s willingness to help
Overreliance on self-reliance
Perception of social cost, e.g., “I will be stupid,” as noted above
Lack of psychological safety, e.g., the permissiveness to ask for assistance
Systems and bureaucracy get in the way
Lack of knowing how to ask for help or the “privilege” of asking for help;
Fear of appearing selfish, e.g., a person out for himself