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How to ask for help

Leadership lesssons from The Wizard of Oz

B.J Gallagher’s book ‘The Leadership Secrets of Oz’ looks at leadership lessons we can take from 1939 film, ‘The Wizard of Oz’. In the movie, Dorothy leaves her home in search of something better, only to realise that the treasure she sought was right there all along. 

At the beginning of the movie right after the tornado has ended, Dorothy steps outside to realise that nothing is familiar. If you’re smart, you’d do what Dorothy does in this situation: politely ask someone trustworthy for advice. In The Wizard of Oz, this person is Glenda the Good Witch.

Feeling lost is not always physical, you can feel mentally lost in your current role or situation.   As an employee or a job seeker, if you’re feeling lost the person you might turn to for advice could be your boss, placement consultant, your family or your friend.  Believe it or not, no matter where you are in life, everyone feels lost at some point. Asking for help can seem difficult but the best thing to do is seek help from those who have been through it before. 


How to ask for help:


A common concern when asking for help is that niggling feeling in the back of your mind that you should already know the answer. Or, that by asking for help you’re admitting weakness. The good news is that although asking for help can be a delicate endeavour, when done right you are able to proceed faster and more efficiently. 

1. You’ve tried everything you can think of

Before asking for help, the first step should be determining whether you actually need it. Make sure you’ve had a red hot go at whatever is troubling you first, before simply handing your problem over. 

2. Don’t stew over it 

Remember to know where to draw the line. How long is too long to spend on any one problem? After trying three different methods, it might be time to admit you need some assistance. Your boss or mentor will respect diligence but if spending too long sitting on a problem will make them question why you didn’t approach them sooner. 

3. Have potential ideas or solutions ready

Yes; you’re stumped. But simply knocking on your boss’s door saying you’ve given up isn’t going to help either of you. Start by outlining what you’ve already tried, plus a list of options on where to go next. Your boss will be able to assess your ideas, then if needed, come up with their own solutions. 

Keep these tips in mind when you find yourself a little in over your head. Your coach or mentor might not be a good witch or a fairy godmother, but they can be just as magical and just as helpful. They can steer you where you need to go. 

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“The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.”


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