Defensive leaders bristle at the hint that they could have done better.
Defensive leaders believe you’re the problem.
Self-protective leaders justify themselves and attack others.
4 reasons leaders justify defensiveness:
Defensiveness finds reasons to throw stones.
- They lack experience. Inexperience is the reason you can ignore people.
- They don’t see the whole picture. They just don’t understand.
- They’re acting selfishly. Anyone who challenges you must be self-serving.
- They always have something negative to say. “Always” is a defensive leaders favorite word.
3 dangers all defensive leaders face:
- Repeating the past when the future needs to change. You can’t dig your heels in and move forward at the same time.
- De-energizing talented teammates who strive for improvement, but feel ignored and rejected.
- Closed minds in turbulent times. Defensiveness doesn’t prepare for the future.
5 ways to defeat defensiveness in yourself:
- Commit to personal growth.
- Stay vulnerable. Vulnerability is fertilizer to growth.
- Don’t explain why you’re right when you receive uncomfortable feedback.
- Explore how to be better when challenged. The drive of success is “better”.
- Find agreement on assumptions. Feedback often addresses surface issues. Go one step below the surface of uncomfortable feedback. Explore options after aligning assumptions.
10 ways to defeat defensiveness in others:
Defensive teammates have already determined that you’re wrong and they’re right.
- Back down when you encounter self-protective responses. Defensiveness is unacknowledged insecurity.
- Avoid telling people what they think.
- Stop making suggestions. Every new suggestion encounters a higher wall.
- Create safe environments. Show respect.
- Focus on issues not personalities.
- Explore assumptions, values, and purpose.
- What’s important to you?
- Why does this matter?
- What are you trying to accomplish?
- Maintain gratitude. A grateful heart stays open. Say, “Thank you.”
- Be honest and open.
- Stay curious.
- Stand for your beliefs with kindness.
What are some dangers of defensiveness?
How might leaders deal with defensiveness?