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Beating skeptics

Every leader faces skeptics. It’s normal, in some cases healthy. You build bridges to skeptics when you:

Get to the point

I’m skeptical of people that never get to the point. It feels like they are setting me up. Declare your intent up front and then state your case after.

Don’t belittle yourself or hog the spotlight

I’m skeptical of people that belittle their own contribution. Reject false humility and graciously accept praise. When people praise you try saying, “It feels great to add value.” Or say, “It’s great to lead a talented team.”

On the other hand, hogging glory violates trust and demoralizes others. In addition, stealing the spotlight creates work cultures where skeptical employees “pay you back” by withholding information, creating and spreading rumors, and give lack luster performances. Hogging glory fuels skepticism.

When others toot your horn, just say thanks.

Listen or don’t ask

Don’t ask questions unless you want answers. It’s not polite to ask questions just to be polite. It makes others feel manipulated, disrespected, and belittled. It fuels skepticism.

Demonstrate competence – acknowledge incompetence

Until you’ve demonstrated character and competence, skepticism is healthy.

Character alone doesn’t build trust. Covey puts it this way, “… competence is as vital to trust as character.” For example, my plumber is honest. I trust him to install a new shower. However, he’s not competent to give my car a tune-up. You answer skeptics with character and competence.

On the other hand, I feel better about you when you honestly let me know what you can’t do. For example, the nonprofit sector is filled with passionate, vision-driven leaders. However, a passionate, vision-driven leader that lacks economic skill can bankrupt an organization. You validate and build bridges to skeptics when you acknowledge, expose, provide for, and openly work on your inadequacies.

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How can leaders deal with skeptics?


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