(This is part 9 in the “There’s a Me in Team” series. Read part 8 here.)
We interrupt this discussion about the Support Challenge Matrix to talk about intent.
The Push Back
Last week a colleague and I were introducing the Matrix at a luncheon. One successful executive pushed back when we described Dominating–when a leader brings high challenge but low support. Her comment, “I don’t agree that this creates a culture of fear and manipulation. Somebody needs to keep pushing. Somebody needs to get all hands on deck and do whatever it takes to get them to move. Dominating is necessary sometimes.”
I was glad she raised the issue and pushed back. And I was glad that we could push back on her push back, which consisted of two points:
- Liberators give as much or more challenge as Dominators. Nearly everyone, when asked to describe the most influential leaders in their lives, gives some version of support and challenge. Years ago I sat on an airplane next to Dallas Cowboys’ tight end, Jason Witten. I asked him who his best coach ever was. “Bill Parcells.” I asked him why. “He pushed me as hard as anyone ever pushed me, but he treated me like an adult, and he loved us as much as any coach ever loved us.” Bingo. So, liberating means that significant challenges are brought. As business speaker and consultant Margaret Heffernan says, “This is not for the weak-kneed.”
- At the pin-drop moment when push back was occurring, my colleague made an outstanding point. “The Support Challenge Matrix has more to do with how others are receiving you than what your core intent is. The major question is, “What does it feel like to be on the other side of my leadership? Does it feel like I am for them, against them, or for myself?”
So think about that this week. We regularly run into leaders who are unaware of how others are receiving them, assuming better things that are actually there. When that happens, the leaders are undermining their leadership. The Me in Team requires that they get an accurate look at themselves, and next week I’ll show you how.