Becoming a Leader Worth Following – Part 3

Abraham Gin discusses calibrating your actions to become a liberating leader

Meghan: Hi and welcome back to another HMC Healthworks podcast I want to welcome back to for a third time, Abraham Gin. Thanks so much for joining us

Abraham: Thanks Meghan, it’s good to see you again.

Meghan: He is here to complete our mini-series on becoming a leader worth following and we’ve already discussed knowing yourself to lead yourself, living intentionally and not accidental within our circles of influence and today I’m excited to go even deeper and discuss liberating leadership as it relates to becoming a leader worth following

Abraham: Alright, well when we think about this tool called support challenge matrix, it really defines what this whole theme has been, becoming a leader worth following and the definition of a leader we say is someone who brings high support and high challenge, someone who we would say be a liberate, they create a culture of empowerment and opportunity. A liberator would not only listen to people to be able to pull from people, they are championing people, they are leaders who value the team members, they are seeking out ways to understand and motivate people. They are very clear even in their challenge where they are able to communicate clear roles and expectations which improves ultimately productivity, happiness and culture. They are people who are looking for greater empowerment and opportunity for everyone creating win win relationships. They view people as assets not liabilities and they know how to calibrate both into support and challenge both at the same time.

Abraham: On the flip end if you were to say look at the other aspects, there are 3 styles of leadership. There are those who are high in support but then low in challenge. These are people we would call, people who protect. Right? But sometimes we think that protect is word is a good thing but the way we are defining it is actually it can actually be toxic if you are not careful. Because if you are only bringing a lot of good things to people with high support but you are not bringing the healthy challenge you’re just bringing the low challenge or no challenge at all you’re creating a culture of entitlement and mistrust.

Abraham: Entitlement because guess what if you’re just being the nice person all the time, saying words that would tickle their ears or you are always throwing all the support but no accountability at the end of the day you are going to spoil the people you are serving and then after a while what ends up happening is that because you’re not communicating your views and opinions and not bit pushing back on them to do their work, guess what you may all of a sudden start becoming not nice anymore you might become a little bit aggressive. It might not be like throwing out your middle finger saying I hate you but it’s more like I’m going to stop talking to you or stop working with you basically and its not fun working with you all together so they may veer away from projects and talking to you so that is where they passive aggressiveness can come from. Those who tend to be more likely to protect.

Abraham: Then there are those who tend to abdicate, they are the ones who have no challenge no support who are clocking in clocking out, completely burnt out, disengaged, they are like I don’t care type of attitude. You’re not bring actually any type of help or support there’s no communication and you fail to hold anyone accountable because there is no engagement.  You are not leaning in and as a result you become a drag to the morale and productivity of the whole group. And as a result, because there is no challenge or support it is a vacuum of leadership. It is culture of apathy and low expectation.

Abraham: And lastly when you bring high challenge and then low support we say that is a dominating type of leadership and these leaders only care about themselves. They are pushing for results; they are finding reasons not to help people. They may be bullying people; they may be pinning coworker against each for competition to gain an edge. They are creating a culture at the end of the day of fear and conflict so you almost feel like a pawn potentially on a chessboard.

Abraham: And then really as you look at all four types of leadership, it’s really the north of where we are trying to lead everyone is high support high support. When you are liberating other people and when you are actually creating that win win environment, it doesn’t matter is only one person is liberating cause, let me as you Meghan, if I’m liberating you and the other person is advocating, totally doing nothing, is that a healthy relationship?

Meghan: No, of course not.

Abraham: What if I’m liberating and the other person is dominating me?

Meghan: No, that’s not going to work.

Abraham: What about if I’m liberating you and then all of a sudden, you’re protecting me, not telling me all the real true feedback that I need to hear?

Meghan: Right, that’s not going to help either.

Abraham: So, what is hard about this, this is a very simple tool, we actually personally have to take ownership and lead ourselves to want to liberate but also guess what, you have to call the other person on the other side of you to also want to lean in to liberate as well. Because for any healthy partnerships or any healthy relationship whether it’s your family, all the way to your work or community, both parties have to lean in and desire for liberation. And that’s hard because guess what? I can do something very liberating, I kind of shared this in one of my previous episodes. I can be trying to liberate my first born in a specific way, and he likes the high feedback and challenge and critique to make him better but I can do the same thing with my second born but guess what? It can be dominating for him because he can’t handle the feedback. He needs more security and love and affirmation to really secure him to actually to have the infrastructure to receive greater feedback but if I don’t pile up the affirmation, he has a hard time receiving any type of feedback. So, what may be liberating for one person may not be liberating for another person and so we need to learn how to calibrate so leadership is a dance. A dance of the support and challenge and sometimes it is difficult and you have to not assume you are doing it well. We can’t dance with every single person really well. Some people have their own rules and their own style and so we have to ask them, like Meghan if I was your boss, I’d say, hey Meghan I thought what I was doing was liberating but what does support look like for you? What does high challenge look like for you? And I’m literally a detective listening and learning from you in your feedback and that is how I can learn how to calibrate to the steps that you’re actually dancing with.

Meghan: And as you went through that, the one that really stood out to me that I instantly connected with was the protector and I can really see how I definitely see myself fitting into that category in a couple of areas and how I will really have to work on communicating a bit more about higher challenge.

Abraham: Yeah, for those of you who are people first kind of leader, you love relationships, you care about the people’s opinions more. Sometimes it’s harder to have hard conversations, you may not like to keep people accountable and to tell them they are doing certain things wrong, you may also feel like you have mastered hinting in every communication but it’s really hard for you to tell fully what you really feel because you don’t want or hurt and ruffle people’s feathers.

Meghan: It feels like you are reading my diary.

Abraham: So if I were to coach you right here Meghan and if we were to take you to the path of being a leader worth following cause that is whole theme of what we are talking about, it means you need to learn how elevate healthy challenge and when you think about that journey and you think about it in your context, whether it be your home life or work life can you share maybe an example of where you feel you’ve been having a hard time elevating challenge in a certain situation?

Meghan: So, it would probably be when it comes to offering critiques or corrections to friends or even colleagues. I find it difficult to find the words to express you know those corrections and critiques and I of course don’t want to hurt their feeling and so I offer a lot of support and then I drop a few hints and some sarcasm probably about my expectations and that doesn’t give me the results I’m looking for.

Abraham: Yeah, and sometimes they are like um, I didn’t get your little hints or little jabs or little things you’re saying and as a result they aren’t responding to that unclear expectation. Right?

Meghan: Yes, exactly correct.

Abraham: And then what happens then Meghan? When you’re actually withholding some of your views, opinions and critiques and your kind of holding it holding it holding it? What ends up happening afterwards?

Meghan: Nobody is happy. Sometimes I will snap or I’ll shut down a lot of times. Instead of giving any feedback or really communicating at all. I go into my little solitude.

Abraham: So, it’s almost like you could snap or could totally ignore and maybe abdicate or you can either go to dominate or abdicate. So, what happens then is as you are bringing in maybe more of a reactionary challenge or you’re snapping or you’re bringing some challenge out of frustration, it’s like, I’ve told you so many times but it’s really you’ve had more inner dialogue and you haven’t fully communicated it out there. Sometimes when we bring a challenge without communicating your intent, they will interpret it as man, you are dominating me. You’re pushing your agenda all of a sudden. I thought we were cool and I’m starting to mistrust you now because I don’t know what you really want. Right? And so, what we need to do is say hey, when you hard time bringing challenge and you starting to then elevate challenge you need to share your intent you need to talk about your liberation intent. Meaning this, you say this, hey, I want to be a liberator which means I want to bring level ten support, level ten challenge. I want to create where you can be in power, we can be in power and can have more opportunities. And I realize I’ve been withholding sometimes feedback because I didn’t want to ruffle your feathers but I think that’s not serving you at the end of the day so I’m learning how to bring elevating challenge to give you the correct feedback so that I and you can be on the same page with clear expectations. Please don’t interpret as me just being a mean person or dominating you. I want you to know my intention is for liberation. And as you share that it feels a little bit long winded because you are setting up the context of the heart of your vision of your feedback but then now as you bring that to the framework, they will be able to receive your challenge without interpreting it as something very negative.

Meghan: So, if I communicate my intention, right here I am trying to become a leader worth following and working towards that and becoming self-aware in that process of growth of in trying to move toward that liberator leader I do have to let people know this is what I’m doing so because they have only seen me as a protector perhaps you know as a high support low challenge. That makes perfect sense because if I start expressing how I feel, of course in a respectful way, it could still be a surprise to a lot of people I would think.

Abraham: Absolutely, so here is another thing. You may have co leadership where maybe one person is the good cop there to protect and other is dominator, always pushing for results.  If you have two leaders leading with two different cultures, one of a culture of entitlement through protect and one culture of fear is that going to be a very synergized unified leadership front?

Meghan: No.

Abraham: No, never.  Sometimes we end up being in this diconic type of relationship when we are leading but at the end it’s actually disempowering for both parties because it doesn’t seem like you have a unified front.  And so it is very important that the dominate person to elevate support and for the protector to elevate challenge so both parties can come with a liberated front cause that is really a leader worth following and we don’t want to pick camps and have a total different way and spirit of leadership but that you are literally going to that green zone of liberation that requires but parties to learn how to calibrate support and  healthy challenge and so then you can be looking and coming with more of a unified leadership front.

Meghan: I can see how that would absolutely need to be necessary for all of this to really come together, especially in an organization, even a team or a family as well to have that unified front. Well, thank you for that, I appreciate that coaching session on the fly. As we wrap here, we are coming to the of our mini-series and again I want to thank you but before we wrap up, can you provide a definition for what you believe is a leader worth following?

Abraham: Yes, a liberating leader is a leader who actually is always looking for the good of those that you are fighting for. They are bringing proper support, proper challenge, they are looking and really being self-aware knowing yourself to leading yourself in a place of liberation and they are thinking through it in a very intentional way through the circles of influence, from the inside out and I believe that is a really great definition using these three tools we talked about in the previous episodes to frame up, that is a leader worth following at the end of the day.

Meghan: Thank you very much. I appreciate it and thanks so much for your time, your expertise, your insights and we hope to have you again on a podcast.

Abraham: Thank you Meghan, take care.

Meghan: Thanks everyone, stay tuned for more HMC HealthWorks podcasts.