” I see you. I love you. There is nothing you can do about it.” – John O’Leary, liberating leader
You want to bring out the best in the people around you, right? You struggle to do it well because figuring it out is easier said than done. Don’t worry, you are not alone. Humans are complicated and our ability to influence anyone is limited by the relationship we have with them.
As individuals we may have ups and downs which will impact our relationships. At the breakneck pace we are all working, we don’t always take turns on the crazy bus- sometimes we all get on at the same time. It is a dynamic process that occasionally results in chaos, frequently results in turbulence and those rare, sweet moments of perfect cooperation and smooth sailing keep us hopeful for more.
So how do you navigate the dynamics well and set yourself up for success? How do you offer the people around you a balanced blend of support and challenge, so they feel it… just the way you meant it… with no distortion? The best way I know is approach it systematically. Here is my process:
The first step is seeing the real impact you have on them.
- Don’t overestimate it- Build rapport and be honest. You may have some work to do so they know you are on their side. They will notice when you are in self-preservation mode, and it will undermine your influence.
- Don’t underestimate it- impact can mean big messes which will need big clean-ups. Certain roles like “boss” or “parent” are supercharged with influence. When there is a power imbalance, the person with more power will have more impact whether they want to admit it or not. Be cautious how you use it.
Next, understand what works for them.
- Platinum rule- Treat them how they want to be treated. While you may prefer to be treated in differently, it doesn’t make either of you wrong.
- Find out specifically how they like to be supported and challenged. Giving them a long lead may feel like freedom to some but feels like abandonment to others. A shout-out at a big company meeting may be motivating for some and mortifying for others. Don’t assume.
- A quick trick to cracking their code: 5W’s & H. How well you get the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, ‘why’ & ‘how’ right can amplify or dilute your impact. Look at what you are doing from several angles. By giving it some thought, your message gets received the way you intend.
The last step to giving them the freedom to show up as their best is calibrating the tension. Balance between the right types of challenge and support to fit where they are now.
- Individual- Each person has what I think of as baseline blend that feels right for them. Warning: We are conditioned to think challenge is better than support so it may take a bit of work to tune in to how much they need to thrive vs what they expect. Although this may look different for each personality style, you will know they are well supported when they show up energized and confident.
- Context- What is the right amount for where they are now? In familiar situations, your people may have some unmet potential you want to push them toward. More challenge could bring out more of their best. But some situations are inherently more difficult, so you might need to bring more support than usual to keep them from getting overwhelmed.
- Season- Knowing what is going on for them in all domains of their life will help you provide stimulating challenge and bolstering support to them as a whole person.
Unfortunately, from my colleague’s perspective it felt like their achievement was being held against them. Over the last several years they had worked diligently to master their role. They were looking forward to enjoying the rewards of all their hard work now that their life had changed significantly and demanded their attention.
The last thing my coworker wanted was a new job that would keep him at work extra hours.
Plus, as a bit of a perfectionist, he was committed to doing an excellent job. The new role at work was too demanding at a time when he already had many challenges on the home front.
By taking the time to know and understand them, you can bring out the best in your people. You will create a liberating culture because you provide consistent challenge and support in the ways that they need, not just in the ways you think you should.
Are you ready to take your leadership up a level and bring your team with you? Our Become a Leader Worth Following Program is designed to do just that. Our next session is already filing up. Reserve your spot now.