It’s a term you hear all the time. People talk about good leaders and bad leaders, incompetent leaders and absent leaders, but how often do we dive into the specifics of what it means to be a good leader?
Not often. Leadership is a common topic, but its core competencies are rarely identified or defined.
Leaders Worth Following
Here at GiANT Worldwide, we strive to help people all over the world become what we like to call “leaders worth following.” The key distinction here is the idea of leaders “worth” following versus leaders people “have to” follow.
If we use the “have to follow” criteria, then there are plenty of leaders out there. Anyone with a title and a taskmaster attitude can technically be called a leader. But we believe leaders can be more than that. Moreover, we believe true leaders should be more than that. We believe they should be worth following because others want to – because they inspire, encourage, and challenge others to become the best versions of themselves.
So, what does it look like to be a leader worth following?
The Liberating Leader
It’s easiest to explain with a tool called the “Support-Challenge Matrix.” The Support-Challenge Matrix works on the idea that the best leaders are those who calibrate a healthy level of both support and challenge for their team. We call these people “Liberating Leaders,” or “Liberators.” This means the leader knows when to bring an appropriate level of support – encouragement, training, resources, etc. – but also when to call their people up to a higher level of work or conduct. This “challenge” entails bringing accountability, standards, deadlines, and when appropriate, reprimand, to the table. The resulting environment is a culture of empowerment where people are challenged to be the best they can be, while also receiving the opportunity to be stretched beyond their comfort zone for the sake of personal and professional growth.
Leaders who intentionally cultivate such an environment are fighting for the highest possible good in the lives of all those they lead.
That is the holy grail. Our ambition is to be those people in every circle of influence, whether that’s with our family, our friends, our teams, our organizations, or even our leadership roles in the wider community.
The Journey Ahead
But leadership is an on-going, day-to-day journey. Sometimes we exhibit liberator tendencies at work, whereas other days we may act more like a dominator in the wider organization, a protector with our team, or an abdicator at home.
We will dive deeper into the Support-Challenge Matrix in later posts to uncover what it means to lean towards Dominator, Abdicator, and Protector tendencies, but for now, we wanted to introduce you to the idea of the Liberating Leader.
If we had to sum it up in two sentences:
Ultimately, the Liberating Leader is someone who cultivates an intentional process of self-awareness and personal growth, while applying their knowledge to fight for the highest possible good in the lives of all those they lead. This means effectively calibrating high support and high challenge for everyone in their circles of influence, including self, family, team, organization, and community.
The path to becoming a liberator is difficult, but it is also incredibly rewarding. We look forward to walking with you on that journey as we delve deeper into the core principles of leadership in the coming weeks and months.