A Leading Perspective

Pragmatic insights for the leader in you

Power to Help

A huge storm blew through Anchorage this past week; gusts of over 100 MPH and sustainable 70 MPH+ winds tore apart our little city.  My house and office lost power when a huge grouping of Birch trees crashed into our utility substation.

Without power, I am also without water and heat.  This happens all the time in Anchorage – anyone who has lived here for a year or two has gone through it at least once or twice.  However, this is the first time I’ve been through it as a single mom…and my experience inspired this blog.

Independence…such a simple word.  


It means freedom from the control or influence of others.  But it also means the ability to do things without the support or aide of someone else.


I have always prided myself on being independent!  I rarely ask for help and consider myself pretty self sufficient.


When the weather turned nasty,  I did what any independent single mom would have done…I got prepared!  I made dinner early, got my 5 year old bathed, and ensured all the laptops, IPhones and Ipads were fully charged.  I filled water jugs and put candles in every room with matches at the ready.  I filled the oil lamps and made sure flashlights were put on every nightstand.  When the power went out at 5:00 pm, we enjoyed the adventure!  (Who wouldn’t…it’s like camping without the bugs!)


We didn’t get power restored the next day, or the next, or the next.  Five days passed before my house had lights, water or heat. During this time, the “adventure” grew old and my “independence” wavered.


I needed help.


Asking for help wasn’t pleasant.

I will work tirelessly on my own in an attempt to figure things out.  I will throw a band-aid on a problem for a temporary fix with hopes I can figure out the long term solution before the band-aid wears out.  I will suffer in silence for a long time before I admit I need help.


While I have always respected and prided myself on this tenacity, the reality is this: it isn’t always good!


My “independence” often results in broken promises, errors or emotional and/or physical burnout.


I demonstrate the same “independence” at work and unfortunately, I fear I am not alone.


  • How many of our employees are trying to figure things out on their own?
  • How many band-aids is our organization wearing?
  • How many of our employees are suffering in silence?


Probably more than we’d like to admit!


It doesn’t have to be that way!


We can make it easy for our staff to ask for help.  We simply need to model “being human” and admit when we don’t know something or when we can’t do things on our own.  We need to refrain from being judgmental when our staff are struggling or when they summon the courage to seek assistance.


We can provide an environment where vulnerability and mistakes are accepted.  This culture can be created by urging creativity, providing positive and constructive feedback, openly discussing problems and potential solutions, etc.  This culture occurs when we use mistakes and shortcomings as learning opportunities and forgive them when they occur.


We can pro-actively offer assistance to our teams.  We just need to pay attention!  If we simply get out of our office, walk around and watch and talk with our staff, we will be able to identify where resources and assistance are needed.  Only then can we pro-actively offer it!


As leaders, we have the power to help – let’s use it!



CommunicationsEmployee RelationsForgivenessHuman ResourcesLeadershipRole of HRSkill DevelopmentTeamworkVulnerability

Heather Kinzie • September 9, 2012

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