4 Ways to Challenge People with Power and Grace
You can’t drift to high performance.
Skillful leaders challenge people.
Successful challenge unleashes human potential.
Rising to meet a challenge:
- Develops self-confidence.
- Enhances self-respect.
- Elevates fulfillment.
- Improves performance.
- Earns respect from others.
- Strengthens relationships.
- Maximizes talent.
Good comes from rising to meet a challenge, even when you give your best and fail.
Growth includes challenge like honey includes sweet.
How to challenge people with grace and power:
#1. Challenge people by challenging yourself.
Hypocrites challenge others and except themselves.
Leaders that don’t challenge themselves cause resentment when they challenge people.
The first practice of leadership is “Model the Way.” Kouzes & Posner
Growth moments always include challenge. You don’t grow until you challenge yourself.
Life stays the same until you challenge yourself.
#2. Challenge people by understanding their talents and aspirations.
Don’t challenge lions to eat grass.
- Assess talents with the VIA Character Assessment.
- Clarify personal and career goals.
- Distill assessments and goals into behaviors and habits.
#3. Challenge people to challenge themselves.
2 questions that help people challenge themselves.
On a scale of 1 to 10 how challenging is this skill you’re working to develop?
Follow up with:
- Why didn’t you choose a lower number? Explore what they’re good at.
- What makes you say it’s challenging?
How might you nudge your challenge-number a little higher?
- Trying harder isn’t an answer.
- Always distill challenge into behaviors.
#4. Challenge with grace.
Rushing to help prolongs incompetence.
Offer to help but don’t rush to help. People need to believe you’re on their team. But don’t let compassion be the reason you prolong someone’s incompetence.
Don’t assume you’re helping in a helpful way. Ask, “What does help look like to you?”
Graceful challenge is rigorous.
How can you challenge yourself today?
What does “challenge with grace” mean to you?
7 No-Nonsense Questions that Challenge People without Being a Jerk-Hole
I love the ‘What does help look like to you?’
It avoids the Rescuer mode
Thanks for jumping in today, Ian. I hadn’t thought about the rescuer mode. I’m delighted you made that connection.
Think about the family members, teachers, coaches, mentors, and managers who challenged you. They believed you had hidden potential and were capable of making a bigger contribution.
Once you challenge a person, you may need to follow up with some “confidence building.” When we know other significant people believe in us, we believe more in ourselves–our confidence grows.
Dan, I like the idea of getting people to challenge themselves. When that happens–“They own the challenge.”
Thanks, Paul. Golden: “Once you challenge a person, you may need to follow up with some ‘confidence building.'”
Don’t over-help but stay available.
Recognize when the other person doesn’t think they are ready for the challenge that you know they are. Years ago, I had a newer employee working for me. I told them on Monday that they were going to lead the meeting we had scheduled for Thursday. This would be their first time leading a meeting, but I knew they were ready. On Tuesday morning, a colleague told me the new employee had taken up smoking again from the stress. I spent Tuesday writing up guidance on how to lead a meeting, which I then shared with the new employee. On Thursday, they lead the meeting — flawlessly, I might add — and then told me it was easier than they thought.
Thanks Jennifer. Your comment reminds me of a coaching clients observation that we may not know how we are stressing-out people. This is important to remember.
When you asked, “How much of a stretch is this for you?” Listen and believe their answer. Don’t judge people through the lens of your strengths.
I love this and took the VIA survey as well. I have learned to appreciate those who have challenged me and hope that as I challenge my team and interns, they will also appreciate the hard days and skills.
As always I enjoy the motivating way to spend my days and it will give me a lot to continue to think about!
Thanks for your thoughts, Therese. What a useful way to approach challenging others. Reflect on the people who challenged you.
I absolutely agree with the following:
Rushing to help prolongs incompetence.
Don’t assume you’re helping; ask, what does help look like to you?
I recently had a similar conversation with my Directors where I spoke about the difference between support and enabling, and solicited and unsolicited support without knowing what is needed and if the support you are offering is helpful.
Thank you for today’s article.
Thanks Donna. It’s such a simple thing to do. But it’s easy to forget. I enjoy your contrast between support and enabling. I often use support and challenge. Your contrast gives me new things to think about.
#1 is powerful. No one is going to respect you if you aren’t challenging yourself because there’s no credibility built by challenging everyone else and shirking challenges at the same time.
Thanks austinword. It’s easy to except ourselves. We’ve paid our dues. We’ve been in the trenches and now it’s time for others. It’s better to expect more of ourselves than we expect from others.