Wayne Baker discusses the art of asking for help on Harvard Business Review podcast

January 7, 2020

Wayne Baker speaks with Alison Beard, a host of the HBR IdeaCast podcast for Harvard Business Review, in an episode called “The Art of Asking for (and Getting) Help.”

Baker says the keys to asking for help are to understand your goals, tailor your message and strategically mine your network. He encourages leaders to model asking for help so it becomes an organizational best practice.

“It turns out that the biggest barrier to generosity is people’s reluctance to ask for what they need,” Baker says. They may fear seeming weak or incompetent or underestimate other people’s willingness to help, says the author of All You Have to Do Is Ask: How to Master the Most Important Skill for Success.

However, research has shown the opposite to be true, Baker says: A well-crafted request for help can make someone seem more competent and most people are happy to help.

“It really taps into that human universal, that people want to help,” Baker says. “If you give them permission to ask, all kinds of things are possible.”

Baker is the Center for Positive Organizations (CPO) faculty director and Robert P. Thome Professor of Business; Professor of Management and Organizations; Professor of Sociology.