We are lucky to have a team member who provides different perspectives, challenges the status quo, thinks of potential downfalls to new ideas, and can effectively play devil’s advocate. I call this person ‘the Challenger.’ They have good intentions. They want to implement ideas that can be successful.
They want the team to avoid setbacks they don’t see initially.
Challengers are passionate, ambitious individuals who want to achieve great things. They have the potential to be exceptional leaders, but they can also be disruptive and destructive if not handled properly.
If you know how to lead a challenger on your team, they can bring considerable benefits to the table, but it’s important not to let them become over-ambitious, burn themselves out or burn out the rest of their team members in their quest for success.
Challengers can excel at problem-solving, taking risks, and being innovative. In addition, they can motivate others because they like to take on challenges themselves.
Sometimes, though, the Challenger overuses their strength. As a result, they cut down team members, ideas, and innovation, and comments appear more negative.
They aren’t intentionally doing this but have gotten good at what they do best, short-cutting their thoughts.
They are trying to be as efficient as possible. But, while the intent is good, the impact on the team usually isn’t. This is because they often aren’t seeing the impact they are having on others.
Overuse of the Challenger strengths
The Challenger mindset is a powerful tool but can be dangerous if you use it too much. While we need challengers in every field to make progress and take risks, The problem comes when we use their strengths without thinking about how they could backfire. Here are some examples of what I mean:
Challengers can be impatient because they want results now! They don’t want to wait around forever until everyone else gets caught up with them.
Challengers tend not to overthink long-term goals because they’re always focused only on achieving short-term success instead. Short-term success is great unless it negatively impacts where the team is headed in the longer-term.
Challengers are more likely to be critical and pessimistic than their counterparts, who lean toward optimism and positivity (even if they don’t always show it).
For challengers to have the most positive impact on your organization or project, they must first learn how to mitigate their negativity. They also need training in how to serve themselves while also serving others.
Helping Challengers Succeed On Your Team
A good leader needs to be aware when the strengths of their Challenger are being overused.
Leaders might not initially step in. Instead, they may believe that the goodwill and benefit of the doubt the Challenger has built withstand their impact.
This may be true on one or two occasions. However, once it becomes a pattern, the team’s negative impact can already be felt. Through the lens of growth and development, the leader can step in and help the Challenger see this blindspot and the impact they are having.
Dealing with it early on will save many conversations with a team member about the behavior and protect goodwill amongst the team members and the impact on the team culture.
The longer we let the shift in behavior continue, the more energy it will consume from you and your team. So be aware of when the transition occurs and help everyone by correcting it early.
The best thing you can do is to help your challengers succeed. They have a lot to offer, and they will leave if they feel like they’re not being heard or appreciated. So always ensure that you allow them to express their ideas and opinions to feel valued in the workplace. It’s vital for all of us at work!
Do you need help with the Challengers on your team? We’re here when you’re ready!