This is my very subjective series on how to become a good leader. Everything I write serves as a reminder for myself and to give you an opportunity to reflect about your own leadership. It is probably good to start with the first part where I speak about the importance of crafting your leadership vision.
This time I want to speak about the importance of challenges.
Again, I know I also have a lot to do and to develop in this regard. At the beginning, it is not so much about applying everything right away. That might be a difficult feat. It is about being aware. When I am aware of those issues, I can more easily do something about it.
As it should be common practice, we start with ourselves. I think that life is all about challenges. Everything can be a challenge. You decide which one you want to take on. Unfortunately, our desire for comfort and security combats our inner (often little) voice which motivates us to grow and challenge ourselves. You might notice it when you take the safer route when confronted with a challenge, but you might not feel so good after opting for security and comfort. That is your little voice telling you that you missed an opportunity to grow. Oh, and the more you ignore this voice, the more resentment you build up towards yourself which will then radiate out to others.
This shows how important challenging ourselves from time to time is.
It has also something to do with being a role model for your team. If you always play it safe, your team might feel they have to play it safe, too. It doesn’t matter really if you tell them to play it safe or not. Our actions will transfer into expectations. If you know you are risk averse that is okay. You can share this info and stress the need that we have to take on challenges from time to time to grow. Individually and as a company. Still, it is important that other people see you take on challenges. Consider it for a moment. When others know about you being risk averse, and still seeing you taking on a challenge, this might give others the little push to do it as well.
It is also important to challenge ourselves from time to time, because when we challenge others, we might know what they need or what they will go through, based on our own experiences.
And yes, our role as leaders is to challenge others from time to time, as well. This can range from playing it dumb to challenge them to come up with a plan or idea, or it can be to give them more responsibility, or even make them do something they are scared of (many people for example are scared of public speaking). Sure, you will never completely “abandon” them. A challenge should always be accompanied with the invitation to offer help when it is needed. If they come and need your help that is fine. Also, it is neither better nor worse when they come and ask for help. Asking for help is NOT a weakness. It is a strength!
This means, you need to get to know your team. What are their aspirations, what are their weaknesses and fears? Then, you can come up with a plan how you can challenge them. Sometimes it makes sense to come up with a plan together with the other person, but sometimes it also makes sense to surprise them and throw them into cold water to see how they are doing.
How would you challenge your team or individuals in your team?
Take care, Stephan