(This is Part 5 in the “There’s a Me in Team” series. Read Part 4 here.)
I’ve got an American friend who lives in a country known for its pasta and Roman architecture. I’d specifically say where, and what my friend does, but somebody might bust his knuckles. Hint: it could be near the Tyrrhenian Sea. Anyway, whenever my friend and his family are traveling back to the US, a “friendly Neighborhood Watch-type person” (let’s call him Guido) shows up and asks if they’d like “protection” of their premises while they’re away. The protection will cost a certain amount of euros–at one time known as liras–payable in cash. Hmmm…
Protection sounds like a nice word, but in certain contexts it might not be so nice. As I continue with There’s a Me in Team, I’m reminded of a foundational tool we use in GiANT: the Support/Challenge Matrix.
While we are aiming to be Liberators –those who bring high support and high challenge–in all of our circles of influence, most of us have natural tendencies toward being either Dominators, or in this post, Protectors. If I asked you your natural tendency, what would you say? How do you act under pressure? In my case, I lean toward being a Protector. Under pressure I’ll back away from bringing challenge, and instead I’ll support the person or the cause that’s in front of me without confronting what’s wrong. That’s not a good thing to do.
Protecting others might actually be a way of protecting myself. If someone has inappropriate behavior and I say nothing or do nothing about it, I could be protecting myself from a loss of relationship or feeling personal rejection. Let’s say that in the workplace, someone consistently under-performs, or perhaps they have a negative attitude or persona which repels others. A true Liberator would take this person aside, bring them whatever support was needed, and they’d also say, “I’m fighting for your highest possible good, and I’m going to help you understand what it’s like to be on the other side of you.” But Protectors might hold their tongues, or perhaps unleash their tongues in gossip with others, talking about the offending party.
You want protection? Not giving your best to your team might be criminal! Next time we’ll talk about how Protectors can leave organized crime behind and become Liberators.
Do we have an understanding?