Mutual support, a lever of leadership

N°302b – Synopsis (8p.) – Cohesion
Mutual support, a lever of leadership
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In the age of collaborative work, helping others is a key way to increase your influence. Yet, you need to know how to judiciously target this help. How can you develop your ability to help efficiently?

In the age of collaborative work, delimiting one’s role is often complex. Whereas a boss previously allocated specific tasks, we must now deal with an entire ecosystem of colleagues, more or less close to us, and possibly even with external partners, all likely to ask us for support. In this context, helping out creates value in two ways. The collective thus organizes itself around projects efficiently. And people providing their support showcase their competences, and can even develop them. They thus build networks with solid bonds, based on interdependence.

Nonetheless, helping colleagues does not mean being entirely dedicated to their service. This is illustrated by Sarah’s example, a young manager in an investment bank. Wishing to find her place, Sarah initially responded positively to her colleagues’ demands. Obviously, she rapidly found herself overloaded and had to withdraw from some of her commitments—raising legitimate disappointment. In reaction to this, she then fell into the opposite excess, almost systematically turning down demands for support from her colleagues to focus on her own work. She then noticed that, lacking internal support, her career was stalling, despite her good level of performance. Then, following the advice of a coach, Sarah started providing support on cross-functional projects again, but this time in a more targeted manner. She notably took charge of the internal network of women in management positions in the bank. Each week, she dedicated a few hours to organizing internal events, conducting workshops, integrating young recruits, etc. The approach proved fruitful in two ways: Sarah became used to speaking in public—which she had always hated doing—and her leadership profile progressively developed, until it finally enabled her to move into an executive role.

This example shows both the benefits of helping, but also the difficulties in finding the right balance. Whom to help and on what matters? Helping within which limits? And how to be effective in this approach? Beyond an altruistic state of mind, mutual support constitutes a form of investment. And, for this reason, it is advisable to develop a real strategy for providing help.

In this synopsis:
– Helping out with discernment
– Supporting others, a strategic investment
– Six ways of supporting others without doing things for them

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