How to Put People in Stressful Situations

What gives you the right to put someone in a situation that makes their palms sweat?

  1. Positive intention.
  2. Shared values.
  3. Known commitments.
  4. Open relationship.

Challenge or coddle:

Coddling prevents people from soaring.

Compassionate challenge – challenge while protecting from permanent harm – always takes people further than coddling.

Coddling is more about our need to feel superior than what’s best for others.

Coddling harms others for selfish ends.

Compassionate challenge:

  1. Develops strengths.
  2. Expands capacity.
  3. Increases self-awareness.
  4. Enhances humility.
  5. Strengthens relationships.

The result of believing in people is challenging them. 

Coddlers don’t believe in people.

Challenge always accompanies achievement.

4 components of ethical challenge:

  1. Transparency. Hiding intentions is unethical, regardless, if they are positive or not.
  2. Knowledge. You must know a person’s goals, strengths, and aspirations in order to challenge them ethically. Influence turns to manipulation when you secretly work to change someone. Additionally, unethical goals make any form of influence unethical.
  3. Intention. Ethical challenge always works to advantage others, even if it feels disadvantageous at first.
  4. Alignment. In organizational life, any form of challenge that works against organizational success is unethical.

Superiority, manipulation, and temptation:

If you are wildly superior to someone – in a different category – manipulation might be ethical. Manipulation of children by loving parents might illustrate the point. But the danger for leaders is obvious.

The temptation of leadership is confusing authority for superiority. It’s dangerous to challenge others while sitting on the heights of superiority. 


What role does challenging others play in leadership?

How might leaders challenge others ethically?


Afterword: Responses are revelations.

What happens when you challenge people?

  1. Self-judgment. Are they hard on themselves?
  2. Learning.
  3. Deeper aspiration.
  4. Energy.
  5. Anger at you. Some feel you have wronged them when you challenge them. Perhaps they feel you aren’t fully on their team. Maybe they don’t believe in themselves.