5 Ways Leaders Win With Skeptics

All leader face skeptics. It’s normal, in some cases healthy.

Pessimists and doubters keep leaders on their toes.


5 ways to win with skeptics:

#1. Overcome the shoe drop distraction.

You’re skeptical of people that dance around important issues. It feels like they’re setting you up. You’re waiting for the shoe to drop.

  • Declare what you want up front.
  • State your case only after declaring your intentions.

#2. Honestly appraise yourself.

  • Don’t belittle yourself or hog the spotlight. I’m skeptical of people that belittle their own contribution.
  • Graciously accept praise. Reject false humility.
  • When people praise you, try saying, “It feels great to add value.” Or say, “It’s great to lead a talented team.”

#3. Give honor, don’t hog it.

Hogging glory fuels skepticism.

Warning: Skeptical team members may decide to pay you back.

Untempered skepticism may express itself by withholding information, creating and spreading rumors, and giving lackluster performances. When others toot your horn, just say thanks.

#4. Listen before telling.

Ask sincere questions when you want to hear real answers.

Insincere questions make others feel manipulated, disrespected, and belittled.

Insincerity fuels skepticism.

#5. Demonstrate competence – acknowledge incompetence.

Skepticism is healthy until you demonstrate character and competence.

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.

Transparency answers skepticism.  

How might leaders deal with skeptics?