The Support Challenge

smaller bridge supportWhy does everyone seem to write articles on Leadership?  A February 18th article in Forbes Magazine was titled The Most Successful Leaders Do 15 Things Automatically, Every Day
I don’t think I have ever read an article entitled The Most Successful Support People Do 15 Things Automatically, Every Day but good support tips are as important as leadership tips. At one time or another every one of us will want to provide good support to someone-a boss, a spouse, a peer, a team member, a customer, an administrative assistant. What does it look like

Try to think of examples of people you know who have provided great support.  I had some trouble with this one.  Maybe you can think of others.

  • Thomas Watson/ Alexander Graham Bell
  • Anne Sullivan/ Helen Keller
  • Abigail Adams/ John Adams
  • Warren Buffett /Katherine Graham
  • Karen Hughes /George W Bush

Perhaps it is the very nature of good support that it is anonymous and we do not know names except in rare cases.  Since the average worker spends more time in the support function than in the leadership role, I think it would be wonderful to acknowledge great support when it occurs.  How do you know when you are supporting someone really well?  Here are my ideas of what great support is:

  • Anticipates what the leader needs/wants and provides it.
  • Alerts leader when danger is present
  • Endorses leader’s vision and explains it to others
  • Executes their part in the leader’s plan flawlessly even when the plan doesn’t completely reflect the supporter’s own ideas.
  • Gives leader advice and suggestions freely without being attached to the outcome.
  • Encourages leader and highlights his/her successes.

What else would you add?

One of my career transition clients really felt the benefits of good support recently in his current job.  Sandy (my client) and his partner, Bob went to a meeting with a potential customer.   The meeting involved a presentation, some golf, and a social function.

Since it was Sandy’s skill in a particular area that the client was buying Bob stayed in the background most of the time.  During the golf and social function Sandy was busy talking to the potential client so Bob took the time to get to know the other support people involved in the business and answer their questions.

Even though Sandy was talking to the decision maker Bob knew the support people would have some input to the decision.   Bob was also in on some conversations that provided him some information that would affect the proposal they would be providing to the company in the weeks ahead.   Sandy was thrilled with the information Bob had gleaned.  It helped them to make a much more cost effective proposal.

Really good support helps you be your best.  It can boost your confidence, make you look at your situation in a new way, and help you to pick up the loose ends that you might have missed.  It’s extra hands, eyes and ears focused on your work.  When was the last time you acknowledged those people who support you?  Most people need and want to be appreciated.  “Thank you for your help!” or “Good Job!” is what most would love to hear.

Questions to think about:

1.   Who provides you with excellent support?  Have you thanked them recently?

2.   What constitutes good support to you?  Where do you provide that kind of support?

3.   Are there other places in your business/company/life that can use your support?  How will your support of them help you attain your goals?

4.   Where in your life could you use more support?  How will you take action to get the support you need?  (Hiring a coach is one way to get support.)

Coaching Offer

If you are feeling stuck, bored or overwhelmed, it is time to think deeply about your situation.  What do you need to be your best?  How can you get it?  What is stopping you from getting what you need?  I help my clients to identify where they are stuck and then find what they need to find their way to solve the problem.  Wouldn’t it feel good to work with someone who is totally on your side, who has no agenda and who wants you to succeed?  If you would like to see what coaching is all about, feel free to give me a call at 781-598-0388 or send me an email at  I’d be happy to chat with you to see if we are a match.



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