Becoming defensive is a natural human response. When you feel you’re being accused of something or held responsible for something, you get triggered. There is a flight and fight response mode that we all have, and if we can’t run away from the situation, we often choose to fight the situation. Usually, this happens with leaders when they are facing a problem, getting accused for something they were responsible for, or receiving feedback from people who don’t agree with them or look at the big picture. To list down in general, there are countless reasons why people get really defensive when they are questioned.
Being defensive is not a flaw but expressing it through words and rude behavior is one. As a leader, if you show defensive behavior in a similar way, then there’s a high chance that it is ingrained in your personality. When you tend to go all defensive in front of a number of people, it displays your authority as a weak one. How it can harm your stand as a leader, you may not even realize that. How would you know that defensiveness has become a part of your personality? Here are a few ways how defensiveness becomes a part of your personality.
Scrutinize your behavior to see if you display any of the following.
Straight Up Attacking the Messenger
If somebody comes to deliver you bad news and you become aggressive towards them, here’s a sign that you are straight up attacking the messenger. Did you check whether the message was coming from the person directly? Did the messenger deserve to be mistreated? He or she was just the person delivering you the bad news. Don’t get argumentative even if the message was coming directly from the messenger. It will show that you’re a weak leader unable to make genuine effort.
Look into the problem, let the messenger say what he/she has to say and then find a solution.
Be Open to Other People’s Opinion and Hear Them Out
If others have a problem with your way of thinking or working, let them express it to you. When you let them speak their opinion out loud, you are giving them a chance to not only express but also vent. When you show care for them, they will show resilience to the fact that you are trying as a leader. In short, you will subconsciously win their positive vote without even letting them know that you’ve already won them. If you lash out just as equally as they are responding, you will earn the opposite.
Let others talk and share what they wish to and hear them out with an intention to solve the problem.
Share the Blame and Give Space to Others
When a problem occurs, don’t start with the blame game and keep saying that it’s your fault or you weren’t able to do the things correctly and that’s why we are now in a mess. Understand your employees’ query and see why did they fail rather than who failed? Let the blame be shared among all to represent that you all work as a team and it wasn’t one man’s fault but the entire team instead. As a leader, you need to make sure that you’re the kind of leader who shares the employee’s pain and give them credit when it is required or when it is necessary. It’s what makes you a better leader after all.
Start out with giving space to others so they can be expressive how the problem occurred and help.
Don’t React Offensively or Badly to Dire Circumstances
When someone lashes out and you respond with an equal force, then you’re giving room to anger, annoyance, and exasperation. Being defensive may not work out in your favor because you will scare the people away. The people you’re leading look up to you as a hope and as someone who can assist you. But what if you represent completely the opposite and as a result, you end up creating fear. If your employees will fear you, they will never open up to you with their secrets or problems or anything. It means there will be no idea sharing, no talks of progressiveness, etc. Instead, just be prepared to face more criticism and negative feedback from other individuals who enjoy hearing you and responding to your needs and queries accordingly.
Be the Master of Your Ownself, Don’t Let Emotions Rule You
If you’re the kind of person who let emotions rule your behavior, then you’re definitely in the wrong boat. Don’t let emotions rule you no matter how bad the circumstances are in the meeting. Employees can get really agitated sometimes and can express a lot more than you’re mentally prepared to listen but you have to keep your calm. Don’t let your anger or sadness overcome your personality.
If you lash out on your employees, there’s a high chance that they either leave the job or end up delivering low-quality performance at their tasks. Don’t forget, you invested a lot to train them initially.
Sometimes, you have to let things slide and as a leader, you’re the only person who can do that.
Let things slide once in a while if you feel they are in hot waters.
That’s the sign of true leadership.
Are you one such leader? What defense mechanism do you have that keeps your emotions at bay? Feel free to share what you think works for you as a leader. We are willing to hear what you’ve to say.