Defensiveness. It’s ugly. We don’t want to do it, but we do it nonetheless. Driven by fear and emotion, our brains shut down and we lose the ability to think and relate to others. Being defensive has derailed many careers, as it impedes one’s ability to learn from mistakes, build strong interpersonal relationships, accept and benefit from differing perspectives, accept accountability for poor outcomes, or take initiative.
To illustrate the negative impact of defensive behavior, consider the real-life story of an executive I’ll call Ron (not his real name).
Leaders need to make sure they themselves, aren’t provoking the defensive behavior, and must work to foster self-reflection rather than self-recrimination.