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The emphasis of my post last week was largely about the correlation between self-awareness and introversion.  I used many sources to explore introversion, and included one of the elements called out in the book The 100X Leader …  being self-aware and responsive.

I ended the post from last week with this thought, and it is exactly where I want to pick up again as we continue to further explore points from the book.

To find success, introverts must learn to augment their natural abilities with a strategic dose of extroversion.

As I absorbed the Forbes article last week, in concert with having just finished the 100X Leader book, this is the point I was left with and I can’t seem to get it out of my head:

  • Introverts possess the skills and traits found in the best leaders (deep thinking, empathy, and the ability to listen).  These are indicative of a highly supportive leadership style.
  • However, these cannot exist in a vacuum. To find success, introverts must learn to augment their natural abilities with a strategic dose of extroversion (the ability to drive change and move mountains).  These are indicative of a highly challenge oriented leadership style.

support-challenge-matrix.001Which is exactly the point the book makes with it’s Support-Challenge Matrix.  The authors intimate in order to help those you lead achieve their objectives or tasks and help the organization win, leadership is in fact calibration of support and challenge.

Support – provide the appropriate help others need to do their jobs well:  to equip people, serve them, and provide the resources needed for those you lead.  It is vital to establish support with those you lead before you challenge them.  This allows for trust to be established.

Challenge – to motivate people by holding them accountable to what they could do if they had the resources. Challenge is the push needed to get people to move to be the best they can be, either as a team or as an individual.

Reading chapter after chapter of case studies and stories related to the quadrants, and the lessons learned from leaders around the world, was extremely insightful. Most of the stories sticking out in my mind were about leaders reacting to the realization of being either too protective (high support but rarely taking the time to challenge) or too dominating (bringing challenge but with very little support, guidance or expectations).

Many years ago I attended a leadership workshop, and 2 key points come to mind related to where leaders might fall on the quadrants:

  1. People act in a way that makes sense to them. Not necessarily to others, but to themselves.
  2. People will never fully know themselves until they see themselves through the eyes of others.

The book made the point leaders are often unaware of their tendencies and responses in various situations.  Sometimes reactions occur out of habit from stress rather than a deliberate decision.  Sometimes tendency is ingrained to avoid conflict to keep things running smoothly.  But in order to change responses or tendencies, you first have to be aware of them.

Ultimately, the goal is liberating/empowering those you lead.  Finding the balance between helping people (support) and pushing people (challenge) is the key to building healthy teams and producing a level of relational trust to take performance to the next level.  As leaders, we must be able to provide 3 things along the journey:

  1. Time – both informal and formal. Informal time, they need the casual connection with you to build trust and helps them acclimate to you and your leadership style.  Formal time, they need clear direction and expectations about how they succeed in their jobs
  2. Vision/Values – they need to know what they are doing and why.  They need to ensure their personal vision/values matches the company’s long-term vision/values.  Keep reminding them of the long-term goal.
  3. Encouragement – Specific, not generic.  Find ways to encourage your team.

Sounds simple, right? Find the balance between support & challenge … give people the time they need … ensure they understand the vision and expectations … encourage them.  As a person/leader skewing towards the Introverted side of the scale, admittedly this can sound exhausting.  But it is a wonderful reminder of the necessity of being an intentional leader vs. an accidental one. Which leaves me with a couple of good thoughts and quotes to wrap up this post.

If you aren’t being intentional or find yourself anywhere other than the Liberator quadrant … consider this thought from entrepreneur Jim Rohn … you cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction.

Be aware of your natural responses, tendencies, habits … and be prepared to change them.  As Aristotle points out … we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.