Leadership duality— Encourager vs Challenger



In my recent article on leadership in which I made a point about the difference between effective and efficient leadership, I pointed us to effective leadership as the better option if change was desired. This article is a necessary installment intended to deal with the next stage of leadership i.e. guiding others (or leading if you like) through the new territory. This is based the premise established in the previous article; that leaders set the pace or lead the way in a particular area—it is what makes a leader. It is in this realm that such matters as leadership styles become worthy of the microscope.
Any reader of Lee Roberson is familiar with the expression; everything rises and falls on leadership. It is also a well-accepted notion that Leadership is cause and everything else is effect. Whiles much has be written and taught about leadership styles with so many different theories being thrown about, I find two attitudes showing up in my own experiences and observation; challenging and encouraging. 


To most people it is always the nice guy who is the most attractive. In many success stories, there is always that leader who encouraged someone to do something and how lucky they were to have met that individual. The encourageris loved because of his seemingly calm and loving nature. He is accepting of people’s weaknesses and encourages them to do what they think they can. People want to be treated nicely, feel loved and respected—the encourager model serves this purpose perfectly.

In a recent attempt to teach a lady friend how to drive, I found myself failing woefully simply because, I was not using the encourager model. You see I am more the bad guy type. The kind of guy who will throw you a challenge and expect you to rise to the occasion after having sold you the idea that I wouldn’t ask you to do it if didn’t think you could. The challenger doesn’t want what you think you can do, he wants what he believes you can do. The challenger wants to work with people who have a will to do things (transcend themselves) not those who need to be convinced to do thing. That’s the challenger guy and he is not the most popular.

The challenger is usually (not always) quite low on socio-emotional competence. He is more performance oriented and less people sensitive. He is not concerned that you havn’t had lunch and that your child has a headache. Nobody likes people like that but the fact remains, it is results that make great people and for that reason alone a focus on performance instead of comfort may be the winning formula. The larger point however, is that leadership is not for everyone (don’t look so shocked).  A leader is a game changer—he charts a course —a new course and from all indications a majority of people do not do that. Those who change the game are constantly in the face of challenges. It is the ability to rise above a challenge that sets them apart putting them in the lead creating something that others will emulate. A person who has trouble with challenges can therefore only follow such persons with pain. Yet a leader cannot be a leader unless he has followers who he must guide on this path. People have needs and that includes comfort and love. We also know that people are their best when they are comfortable in what they are doing. So that it is clear that the two models have merits and demerits. The most versatile leader will know not only how to throw a challenge but also how to encourage followers to take them up without threatening their self-esteem.



If you are an encourager, then encourage more while recognizing the need for throwing a challenge. On the other hand a challenger must challenge while encouraging where it is needed. As is always the case; one may be stronger in one area than the other, this is fine and decides what kind of followers he assembles. If John C. Maxwell is right, then a leader must aim to raise other leaders. What kind of a leader will you train, how will you do it and why? Go lead with high performance!

About Markus Kennedy Katey

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