Leadership – addressing defensive behaviour

defensive behaviour 1I had a senior leadership client in this week who is having a particular challenge with a head of dept who had a very different – and sometimes inappropriate – reaction to staff. The member of staff in question has quite a dictorial approach and thus doesn’t like staff giving feedback on anything. This has at times resulted in her comments to staff and others being aggressive and defensive.

My client relayed to me many experiences with this member of her team and the challenge of addressing this issue. The main challenge being that she receives the same type of defensive, aggressive reaction when attempting to speak to the person in question about her behaviour. What I did notice in her stories was that the she was herself, when being questioned or having a different opinion from this person, not willing to acknowledge these or do things differently. Interesting eh?

This is really challenging one isn’t it? How do we speak to someone and resolve this when the person in question is not responding as we would like. Sometimes I think a great way to break this cycle, especially as we cannot make other person behave differently, is to look at what our own behaviour is.

There is a great quote, ‘Be the change you want to see’. It may be far from ideal but the willingness to hear others and acknowledge their opinion (even if we don’t like it) can make A HUGE difference to the response we get. Of course this can take a lot of courage and resilience.

As a leader what are we modelling when we don’t speak up or aren’t willing to have that difficult conversation?

Thoughts or feedback? Do comment and let me know!


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