It’s Not a Fair Fight If You’re the CEO By...
So he invited me to come along for the ride as his coach at his new job. He went public with his need for help, in effect telling his staff, “I have a coach. I need feedback. You need feedback, too.”
His strategy for Best Buy was to compete with online retailers, not on price, but rather by offering better “advice, convenience, and service.” This meant that when a customer came to one of Best Buy’s 1,000+ showrooms, the floor people had to be so knowledgeable and enthusiastic that the customer would have no reason to buy anywhere else.
Hubert was betting the store solely on the employees of Best Buy.
Hubert came up with a counterintuitive strategy — he wasn’t going to help the employees in the usual top-down management approach. Quite the opposite. He would ask them to help him. He exposed his vulnerabilities publicly to them, acknowledging his need for help at every step. He asked for their approval, not asking them if they liked him, but getting their buy-in on his strategy.
He asked employees for their belief in his strategy by asking for their “heart.” And they gave it to him. All he had to do was ask.
In the course of transforming Best Buy—during which the stock price quadrupled and Jeff Bezos of Amazon would say in 2018, “The last five years, since Hubert came to Best Buy, have been remarkable”—Hubert transformed himself as a person, as well.
To his employees, he became a human being, imperfect and vulnerable, willing to admit he didn’t know everything and therefore willing to ask for help. He joined Alan Mulally and Frances Hesselbein as one of my three most successful coaching clients— Alan and Frances because they had to change the least (they were already great when we met and became even greater), Hubert because he changed the most.
If I can leave you with only one piece of advice to increase your probability of creating an earned life, it is this:
Ask for help. You need it more than you know.
There are moments when asking for help is clearly the better choice, and you decline to do so.
Beware two situations in particular:
The first is when you are ashamed to seek help because doing so will expose your ignorance or incompetence. The teaching professional at a golf club once told me that fewer than 20% of the 300 members at her club had ever taken a lesson from her. They were too embarrassed by their faulty swing to let her help them. “I pay my bills giving lessons to the 30 or 40 best golfers at the club,” she said. “They only want to shoot better scores. They don’t care how they got there or who helped them. Their scorecard doesn’t care, either.”
The second situation begins when you tell yourself, “I should be able to do this on my own.” You fall into this trap when the task you’re facing is adjacent to knowledge or a skill you think you already possess.
I do not have this problem anymore.
“Did I do my best to ask for help?” is no longer on my list of basic Daily Questions.