Ep 122: When Supporting Other People Is For Yourself
What are your true intentions when supporting your team? In this episode, Adam Quiney talks about how leaders support other people and the blind spot these leaders can’t distinguish for themselves. Get a deeper understanding of your intentions as Adam tries to differentiate between serving others and serving your own needs. He also dives into the importance of distinguishing this challenge as it relates to your success as a leader. Tune in and learn how you, as a leader, can address this blind spot.
Listen to the Episode Here:
When Supporting Other People Is For Yourself
One of the things I want to talk about right out of the gate is the whole purpose of the point of a distinction. Part of why I want to talk about that is because this has been live for me, one of the places I express a lot of my art where I put a lot of my work into the world is through Facebook. That’s the platform I use. I posted a distinction which said, “Managing other people’s feelings is codependence, being responsible for your impact is leadership.” It was one of the more popular posts I’ve written in quite some time. It’s a pretty simple one. I kept it very short because I wanted it to be one of those little background things they allow. It’s in bold font. A number of people came back and argued with it saying that they’re the same thing. All of this is codependence, etc., and then arguing for that truth. I’ve noticed that a lot of them were relating to this distinction as though it’s an objective truth in reality, or holding it like getting very nuanced about it or being blunt about it.
Either way, the conclusion they arrived at is, “No, it’s not. That isn’t true.” Part of what’s happening there is they’re relating to it like this is a truth I’m speaking as opposed to a distinction being offered. I want to be clear that as a leader, I can be responsible for the way that I put this into the space that created this. This is part of me owning that impact. When I put something like that without any further explanation, people are going to relate to it the way they relate to it. Maybe provide less. I can be responsible for that part of the impact of putting a message like that into the world. Some people are going to misunderstand it or relate to it as a truth rather than a distinction, which is where its power.
I can be responsible for that impact. I could make them wrong for it, or I can be like, “That is part of what will happen when we put something into the world succinctly,” without a lot of explanation. Some people are going to mistake it. I’ve chosen that means of expressing that in the way I’m putting it out into the world because it’s punchy, poignant, and it jolts people awake. The consequences that some people misunderstand it and argue with it like it’s a truth being shared. I don’t have to change how I’m showing up. I’m clear that that is part of how it goes. I can be responsible and empowered by my choice. In any event, if we take off like, “You should’ve said it this way, Adam,” or any of that stuff, the real point I want to make here is that people will often hear a distinction like that, and they ask themselves, “Is that true?”
The Power of Distinctions
That takes away from the power of a distinction. What distinction does is it pushes us out into a black or white place. It has us check in with ourselves and be like, “Which of those am I actually doing?” Rather than it be, “Is that true?” It becomes an opportunity for us to take a look and see, “Which of those two am I doing? Am I managing someone else’s feelings or am I being responsible for the impact I’m having?” I do want to acknowledge that that can be a bit tricky at times. There are places where it’s like, “Am I trying to go out of my way to not have that person be upset? Am I just cleaning up the fact that the way I said that came off upsetting? Where’s the dividing line?” It’s not to say that a distinction works every time, or that it’s perfect and flawless, or even that there aren’t nuances to it. The gift of it is it forces us into a choice.
I’ll give you one other example, which is Dusan Djukich distinction. He wrote a book called Straight-Line Leadership. I highly recommend that. The distinction he has in there is one of many. It’s a book filled with distinctions. It is choosing to versus knowing how to. He argues that what stops most people is that they stay seated in needing to know how. They argue that, “I would do this. I would reach out to people if only I knew how.” He argues, this is rarely if ever the problem. We rarely don’t know how. If you go on Google and look something up, the answer is there. The problem is not that we don’t know how. It’s that we’re simply not choosing. People can take that distinction. They’d be like, “Is that true?” Maybe I’m not choosing because I don’t know how. It is not knowing how, but you can even see getting into that mental calculus, you lose the power of the distinction. The power of that distinction in a way forces you to confront something. By creating a binary decision, it pushes you out. That gives you access to power. It helps you see things in a new light.
Distinctions Vs Objective Truths
I bring all this up because a lot of what we talk about on this show, a lot of our conversations here are about distinctions rather than objective truths. Anything that I say, if you are relating to it as a truth, at some point, it will become a hindrance to you. These are rather distinctions. They are places for you to stand in, a place to come from. For example, I say that one of the most powerful places to stand as a leader is that I am 100% responsible for the way my message is received. People will argue, “That’s totally codependent, Adam. Was that true? What about if the person had sociopathy and they were naturally predisposed to whatever?” You can see that arguing it’s not true doesn’t get us anywhere. If I stand in that context, if I hold and come to the world from a place of, “I am 100% responsible for the way my communication is received,” then however that communication lens over there, I have an opportunity to take a look at how I was being that had it impact that way. That gives me access to more power.
That same context may not give you more access to more power. In my experience, the context of the leader is 100% responsible for how their message is received. It gives most leaders far greater access to power than arguing, “I don’t know if that’s true.” All of that has a preface, an invitation that on this show, when you read stuff and you notice yourself arguing with it or asking if it’s true, my invitation is to get, “That’s not what this is about.” To set down that conversation and get in the conversation like, “What if it was true? What if I came from this? What if this was a come from rather than a truth about the reality of the world?” I’m a bad person to come to for truths, but I’m a fantastic person to come to for contexts. They will empower you as a leader.
Supporting Other People Is Actually For Yourself
What we’re talking about is that supporting other people is actually for yourself. This distinction represents one of the sneaky ways that the leader’s blind spot and ego gets the better of them. This is ultimately where the leaders are abundant. Their willingness to support other people are very supportive. The reality is that underneath all of that, the primary reason for that support is ultimately in order to get the leaders needs met, rather than the needs of the people they’re supporting. Some examples of how this can show up is the leaders supporting people because the leader themselves can’t be with someone else’s struggle or suffering. I see my staff over there suffering, struggling, feeling stupid. I immediately rushed to support them. It possibly serves that person over there. There are lots of times when it won’t, but chiefly, primarily, my need to support them is a function of meeting my own need to not be seen struggling or suffering. It feels so bad when I struggle and suffer, so when I see other people feeling that way, I have to rescue them.
Here’s another example. The leader is supporting someone else so that the leader can feel good about the amount they support other people. That could be for any number of reasons. Maybe to prove to themselves or someone else that they’re good leaders, that they’re not selfish, or that they’re generous or whatever. My personal favorite is providing support to someone that has spoken or volunteered on a call, which is effectively an advice masquerading as a question or an explanation of what they do. You’ve probably been on calls like this where someone volunteers for something or they share, “I’m getting this,” then someone says, “I have a question.” It turns out their question is telling that person how they should do something. They might say, “I have something about that. What I do is I’ll be okay with people being frustrated. I don’t let that upset me and that helps me. That’s maybe something for you.”
They’re giving support, but that support is actually to meet their own needs. That support is given. It’s for that other person ostensibly, but primarily it’s for this person to feel good that they’re doing the right thing, and to feel good that they get to give advice and all that stuff. What makes this so challenging is that the leader in question, and remember everyone can be a leader. When I talk about the leader in question, I’m simply referring to whoever is providing support. What makes it so challenging is the leader in question genuinely believes they’re serving the person and further complicating matters. They probably are on some level.
Even though the support they offer is about getting their own needs met, first and foremost, it still might serve the person they’re giving that support to. This is why it’s thorny because their need is getting met first and foremost, then the leader’s need is getting met first and foremost. That is always the priority. The person they are supporting is always coming secondary. This is a little bit like the sandtrap we talked about in an early episode called Oh Wow, What a Breakthrough, where the leader always needs to provide something profound. The primary driver is not what moves this person forward in their leadership. It is what would have this be profound. The primary driver here is not what supports this person. It’s first, how can I provide support in a way that meets my own needs?
To be clear, none of this is conscious. This lies in your blind spot or their blind spot, or whoever’s blind spot. It’s not like this is thought out, but that is the underlying hidden disguised conversation that is happening. It’s not that you aren’t providing support to someone. It’s that our attention is first and foremost on our own needs. Consequently, that becomes the primary objective. If we were to distinguish between someone offering zero support at all, and someone offering support this way, great. Let’s have them offering support this way. It’s better than nil. The challenge is that sometimes what will most support people is letting them struggle or suffer, or some form of support that is outside of what will primarily serve the leader’s own needs. That becomes impossible when this blind spot is at play. It becomes the way the ego is being met through supporting other people.
Second in these conversations, and indeed these distinctions we bring forward here. We’re not looking at, is this better than nothing at all? We’re looking at, what will have you step into the next rung of your leadership? It may well be that you supporting other people by getting your own needs met first and foremost genuinely benefits them. The next stage of your leadership is going to be learning to distinguish where and how you are doing this, where and how you were getting your own needs met primarily by supporting others. You can then be responsible for that and choose outside of it. You can probably imagine this is thorny because leaders will get defensive. They’ll point like, “I noticed that when you give support, you’re doing it to get your own needs met.” They’ll be like, “What are you talking about? I’m supporting that person that benefited them.” They will keep pointing to how it benefited them, which makes it impossible for them to see that underneath that.
Sure, it benefits them, but first and foremost, you’re getting your needs met and that will inevitably become a hindrance because you are not putting that person and their leadership in front of you. Why does this matter as a leader? Hopefully, at this point, you’re like, “I can already get a sense of it,” but let’s dive into that. On the personal level, this indirect way of getting your own needs met that is most pernicious and challenging. When you’re getting your own needs met in indirect ways, you can’t truly be responsible for them. Indeed, you can’t even own that you have these needs. This is what happens. When we have a need that we’ve learned is wrong, it gets pushed down. We can only experience it indirectly. We can’t own that we have that need. It’s something out of the corner of our eye. When we can’t experience it directly, we can’t have it met directly.
This is what’s at play where maybe you have one of those bosses that steals all the credit. They’ll start to sit up to give a toast and start to acknowledge someone or their team. You notice that the acknowledgement all becomes about them. What’s happening is this boss has a need to be acknowledged. They’re feeling under-acknowledged, but they can’t own that. They can’t see, “I am needy for acknowledgement.” They can’t come to terms with that. They will probably say things like, “I don’t need acknowledgement.” Are you kidding me? You’re stealing it all the time. They can’t see it. Because they can’t see it, they can’t own it. Because they can’t own it, they have to get that need met in an indirect way. It ends up being slimy. We resent people for it. It feels gross because there’s a fundamental dishonesty to it. I don’t mean dishonesty like evil. I mean we’re not able to come out and ask for what we need. When someone points to this or perhaps even as I am doing for you in this episode, you’ll naturally disagree and reject the reflection.
When people are feeling a little less than fully supported, you will defend your decisions and actions, “What are you talking about? I did all this to support them,” rather than being able to get curious about what would have made more of a difference for them. This creates a confusing dynamic in your relationships. The type of support you are able to give is what people need in the moment. When it lines up with what serves your own needs, everything works hunky-dory. When that’s not what it’s called for people will find themselves frustrated or left feeling unseen. You on the other hand will typically find yourself feeling resentful or frustrated. You’re offering support and these ingrates aren’t even willing to take it, screw them. This tendency can sabotage your relationships. It can create a lot of toxicity as it builds up in spite of your genuine desire to support and help others. Just to be clear, people that have the quality of being of generosity are most likely to fall into this trap. I’m not calling it a sandtrap because we’re not using this as a sandtrap series, but generosity as a way of being will most often find themselves in this.
Consequently, the people that are most generous through this mechanism can end up being quite cold and cut people off because the resentment builds, and they don’t understand why. They’re like, “I’m just supporting people.” Your teams ended up impacting in a very similar manner. The team members that will benefit from the kind of support you were able to offer, which remember will be the kind of support that meets your own needs met as a primary. Those people will thrive up until the point that they need some support that lies outside or at odds with that, which was meet your own needs. Once the support required and the ability to be responsible to your own needs met come into conflict, you and your teams will stagnate. You’ll be left confused and frustrated as to why things don’t seem to move forward.
Trend In Leadership
Predictably, leaders that find themselves in this place eventually point the finger to the team member, deciding they are simply not coachable, they’re ungrateful, or they aren’t material for further leadership. That’s the sound of your leadership dying. There is a trend in leadership. I see it often where people get labeled as uncoachable. That is the sound of a leader’s leadership dying. The leader is 100% responsible for their impact. Part of their impact is they have a team member showing up as coachable. The leader goes, “Who am I being? How am I causing a breakdown in the relationship that’s having this person show up not coachable? How do I need to be to be able to support and work with this person?” All of that is out the window once we label people this way. What do you do about this? You begin by auditing the ways and places you tend to offer support. Have a look around you. Notice how you tend to offer support. How does it tend to look? What are the times and situations that you’re most willing or most likely to jump to the rescue of someone? That’s the first place that’s going to have you starting to notice support. As you notice this more, it provides a clearing for you to see more of this as it shows up.
The second thing you notice is yourself offering advice. Advice is almost always for the person offering it rather than the person receiving it. You’ve probably had this experience, especially unsolicited advice, but even when someone asks for it. It can be very risky more often than not. It’s a kind thing to ask for advice, but you’re getting that person telling you what they would wish that they had done in the past usually. Notice when you are offering advice and especially unsolicited. This presents the perfect place to notice that it may be helpful for the person you are offering the advice to. It’s like, “I’m offering advice.” It’s helpful while simultaneously noticing that it’s being about you validating your own decisions, your own awareness, and the learnings you’ve come across. It’s a great place to notice, “Here’s a place where when I give advice, I feel good. I feel I’ve achieved something. I feel on a pedestal. I feel I’m valued.” These are all things we get from offering advice. You can notice when someone asks for advice, “It serves my needs.” At the same time, it supports them. That’s a great example of it.
Rather than arguing with me, ask, “Is it true that advice is always for the person offering it?” I invite you to try it on as a suggestion. What if your advice was about getting one of your own needs met? When you notice yourself providing advice, pause, take a breath, and ask, “What need of mine am I getting met here?” This will be a much more powerful inquiry to be in than, “Yeah, but is this always about me getting a need met?” That’s missing the point of the distinction here. Instead of assuming that you know what would support someone, ask them, “What would support you?” Notice whether or not you got your question answered. A lot of people will ask this question once. Someone might say, “I’m not sure,” then they’ll vent some more. The person that asked what would support you jumps right into advice-giving or fixing at that point.
Don’t do that. Practice staying with the person. You genuinely serve people by being curious about what would support them. More often than not, this can be frustrating, which is great because it means that you’re stepping beyond your own needs. When we are frustrated, our need is the things to go our way. When you are willing to sit with someone and be like, “I got it. I hear you but I want to check in, is what would support you someone who would be listening? Is there something else?” “Listening would be good?” “Great, I want to fix you but let’s just listen.” Instead of assuming what would support them, ask them. This is a beautiful way to set aside. You already made a decision about how to support them.
That’s all we’ve got for you. A couple of things I want to share. We have little time left until the Creating Clients course starts. We have been active in the Facebook group already. We’ve got seven people registered. There’s one more that said yes, but hasn’t made their payment yet. Some of the questions that we’ve been exploring already are, how do I support a client in saying yes to working with me when they’ve got no time at all in their life? We’ve been looking at, how do I create an experience of abundance and creating clients and prosperity when I’m feeling scarce about my own time and my own energy? We’ve talked about, how do we go from connecting with people, organically creating relationships with people to offering a coaching or a service-based conversation?
We’ve been looking at these questions and creating transformational conversations about it. We’re having people transform and we haven’t even started yet. Come join us. It’s a low commitment. It’s ten weeks, one video call a week and $1,000. I want to be clear that that $1,000 is not for me. You’re not paying for the value of the course. That’s well over $1,000 of value that I promise you’re going to learn from this. That $1,000 is your commitment. That’s what has you show up. I invite you to relate to it like, “Do I want to pay $1,000? Is this going to do something for me?” That’s not the conversation to be in. It’s, “Do I want to have client creation be an effortless, natural, organic expression of who I am in the world? Would that feel good to me? Do I want that enough that I would be willing to commit to it?” That’s all that price tag is about. It’s about us supporting you by holding a commitment. I highly recommend the course. We’re having a blast already and it’s potent. We’re doing some good work in there. We’ve got a great group so far. You can go to AdamQuiney.com/ClientCreation. You can also go to my website, but if you’re not sure you can email me at Adam@AdamQuiney.com and ask about it there and I will send you the link. It is awesome.
Lastly, I will tell you what we’ve got coming up. We’re introducing a new series. This series is called Along the Spectrum. We’ll talk about it in greater detail next episode. Along the Spectrum is another series that is going to be in tandem with Leadership Sandtraps. We’ll be having probably once a month of Leadership Sandtrap, once a month of Along the Spectrum. The other two Monday show episodes will be likely more distinctions like this. What Along the Spectrum is taking one of the qualities of being that are detailed in the spectrums of being, and talking about how that shows up in the world, how the shadows look, how to work with that, how it’s a challenge for leaders. The two that we’ve got coming up soon, next episode, we’re going to break that down and help you see how that will all look at a high-level view. The following two episodes will be about connection and about brilliance. Those are going to be cool.
I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you have any feedback, please send it to Feedback@AdamQuiney.com. We’d love to hear from you. I know it’s a bit of a hassle, but I want you to know that every time you send me a message, every time you click 5 stars or 4 stars, not 3 stars on iTunes. Every time you write a review, any of that stuff, I don’t need sponsorship, but that is the most rewarding nourishing things someone can do. If you haven’t, don’t feel bad about it. If you have, I want you to know what a difference it makes. I love you. I hope you have a fantastic rest of your day and we’ll see you in the next episode.
- Straight-Line Leadership
- Oh Wow, What a Breakthrough – Previous episode
- iTunes – Get Lit
About Adam Quiney
I’m an obsessive perfectionist, high-performer, former lawyer, and now an Executive Mentor. I know what it’s like to succeed easily and quickly. To blindly put my happiness in the hands of achievement.
All the success, money and possessions in the world couldn’t cure my boredom. Couldn’t produce a loving, intimate relationship with my wife…and definitely couldn’t fulfill me.