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Don’t Take Things Personally and Don’t Dig In, pages 187-191

Updated: Oct 14

Part Two: Leadership Tactics, 2. Leadership Skills, B. Don’t Take Things Personally, C. Don’t Dig In, D. Iterative Decision-Making, (pages 187-191)

B. Don’t Take Things Personally

Make every attempt to never take things personally. Your ego will be your enemy and you must fight it. Even when people ask for feedback, and then they get mad about it, don’t allow yourself to take it to heart. When someone else wants to speak, instead of being defensive, listen. If they have good points, apply them, and thank them. “It takes humility, but it will make you better.”

This is a tough thing for new leaders to do. When you are new in a leadership position, you often lack confidence. This can then lead to having “thin skin” when it comes to those who will undoubtedly question you in your new role. New leaders will often overreact if their directions are challenged. Keeping your ego in check is vital if the new leader wants to develop “thicker skin”. Don’t take things personally. Easy to say, difficult for new leaders to accomplish.

C. Don’t Dig In

“Don’t overcommit to ideas”. When developing ideas, thoughts, or opinions, keep an open mind so that you have room to maneuver if necessary. Diggin in will cause arguing which will then lead to wasting time without moving forward. When someone has an idea that if different, they will think that their’s is the best, and will dig in and argue about it. The more under attack, the more they dig in. The more they dig in, the more time is wasted. The idea is to not dig in by not overcommitting to your ideas, plan, or opinions. When differing ideas are offered, listen to determine if there is better. If it is, use it. If it is equal to yours, use it to provide buy-in. If yours is better, explain why it is. By not overcommitting, you will never have to admit that you were wrong because you never claimed you were right in the first place.

New leaders have a strong desire to always be right. This stubbornness is a result of two traits at opposite ends of the spectrum, an overactive ego and a lack of confidence. When interviewing, I am often asked about my leadership style. While I don’t like to define it as a single term, I speak about different attributes. One I always mention is that while I am not always the smartest person in the room, I am smart enough to understand that. By that, I mean that I listen to those around me and understand that their ideas are often as good as or better than mine. And that is ok. My job as the leader is to not always have all the ideas but to gather those who have the most knowledge and allow them to develop solutions. Good leaders are good listeners. As Steve Jobs famously said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

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© 2019 by Erik Bentzel. 

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