10 Ways to Defeat the Evil Monster of Defensiveness

Defensive leaders bristle at the hint that they could have done better.

Defensive leaders believe you’re the problem.

defensive teammates have already determined that you're wrong and they're right

Self-protective leaders justify themselves and attack others.

4 reasons leaders justify defensiveness:

Defensiveness finds reasons to throw stones.

  1. They lack experience. Inexperience is the reason you can ignore people.
  2. They don’t see the whole picture. They just don’t understand.
  3. They’re acting selfishly. Anyone who challenges you must be self-serving.
  4. They always have something negative to say. “Always” is a defensive leaders favorite word.

3 dangers all defensive leaders face:

  1. Repeating the past when the future needs to change. You can’t dig your heels in and move forward at the same time.
  2. De-energizing talented teammates who strive for improvement, but feel ignored and rejected.
  3. Closed minds in turbulent times. Defensiveness doesn’t prepare for the future.

5 ways to defeat defensiveness in yourself:

  1. Commit to personal growth.
  2. Stay vulnerable. Vulnerability is fertilizer to growth.
  3. Don’t explain why you’re right when you receive uncomfortable feedback.
  4. Explore how to be better when challenged. The drive of success is “better”.
  5. 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.

  1. Back down when you encounter self-protective responses. Defensiveness is unacknowledged insecurity.
  2. Avoid telling people what they think.
  3. Stop making suggestions. Every new suggestion encounters a higher wall.
  4. Create safe environments. Show respect.
  5. Focus on issues not personalities.
  6. Explore assumptions, values, and purpose.
    • What’s important to you?
    • Why does this matter?
    • What are you trying to accomplish?
  7. Maintain gratitude. A grateful heart stays open. Say, “Thank you.”
  8. Be honest and open.
  9. Stay curious.
  10. Stand for your beliefs with kindness.

What are some dangers of defensiveness?

How might leaders deal with defensiveness?