Arrogance and Other Concerns with Stretching People

This post is a follow up to this morning’s post, “How to Stretch People without Breaking Them.”

Thanks to the people who added comments and inspired this post.


The idea of stretching people borders on arrogance.

Discomfort gives meaning to challenge. What gives you the right to challenge people to the point of discomfort?

What makes you think you know what’s best for others? People aren’t objects. Are you a sadist?

Arrogance demands more from others than it demands of itself.

  1. Ego stands aloof.
  2. Conceit looks down its nose.
  3. Self-importance isolates itself.

Personal demands:

Humility answers arrogance.

If you’re going to lead, demand more from yourself than you expect from others.

Leaders need to grow more than anyone else.

  1. How are you stretching yourself?
  2. How are you stepping into personal disruption and discomfort?
  3. What are you learning?


Stretching people is a request, not a demand.

Real relationships include the right to say, “No.”

The ability to say, “No,” makes challenging people healthy. If people can’t say, “No,” it’s a demand, not a request.

Leaders challenge people. But people stretch themselves.

Sometimes leaders give direction. Understand the difference between, “I need you to.” and “Would you?”.

5 foundations that enable disruption and discomfort:

  1. Build trusting relationships that include permission to reject the challenge.
  2. Understand people’s strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Grasp people’s values.
  4. Establish alignment between the advancement of individuals and organizational goals.
  5. Become aware of an individual’s personal goals.

Stretching people you don’t know:

Use curiosity to stretch people you don’t know.  

Ask stretch questions.

  1. How might you stretch yourself in this project?
  2. What does it look like to take yourself to the next level?
  3. How comfortable are you with your plan? How might you challenge yourself?

Stretch tip:

Stay available, but don’t be too helpful when people stretch themselves.

What are the downsides of stretching people?

What is essential when challenging people to step into discomfort?

**Don’t miss the post that inspired this one: How to Stretch People without Breaking Them