Thank you for listening to the Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Have you ever wondered what it’s like to get 1-on-1 leadership coaching? In today’s edition of Hanch’s How-To’s, we’re talking about the real problems today’s leaders are facing, including how to deal with defensive people and how to embrace change. You’ll hear the real-world situations my one-on-one coaching clients are facing and the solutions we worked through.
Dealing with a defensive person
The Situation: I was working with a leader recently who presented this dynamic to me: One of their peak performing employees happened to be their most defensive employee. The leader told me that because their employee was right so often, they couldn’t take it when they were wrong.
The Response: Most people react defensively from time to time, but when you see a pattern emerging, it’s time to address the issue. Remember that defensive behavior has nothing to do with you, so resist the temptation to respond defensively in return. Empathize with the other person. Decide to be curious about what is causing their emotional response. Ask questions until you understand them. Asking a defensive person, “Help me understand what upset you,” or “Tell me more about what you’re feeling right now,” can help dilute their reaction and get to the root of the problem. Your job is to keep the mission in mind and stay focused on what is right rather than who is right!
Q: Do you know someone who is defensive? What effect do they have on the rest of the team? Has anyone addressed their behavior? Why or why not? Why do you think an empathetic approach is the best?
Flexibility is KING
The Situation: I was recently working with a client who needed to catch up to a new strategy that gave a competitor an advantage. The new strategy required a tremendous change and a lot of resilience. As the weeks turned into months, I noticed that their flexibility was being compromised. At this point, I reminded them that this change was the answer to their competitive advantage.
The Response: If you have ever found yourself saying, “Just give me some time to get used to the idea.” I’ll warm up to this in a month or so.” “I just don’t like the new system.” or “What was wrong with the old way?” you may need to adjust your thinking! Change is a necessary part of business, and unfortunately, you do not always have a say in it. The limits in your business are set by the marketplace and your customers. When you choose to adapt, you will create a competitive advantage both internally and externally.
How you respond will determine your reputation as a leader. You will either be flexible or you will be exposed as a rigid leader. If you fail to adapt, your leadership brand will diminish. Other people are thriving on change. If they have adjusted and you have not, you and your company could pay the price.
Q: On a scale of 1-10, how much do you like change? On a scale of 1-10, how well do you think that you adapt to change? Are your ratings similar? Why or why not? Think about the last major change you went through in your business or position. What was the change? Were you happy about it? How did your attitude affect your willingness to implement the change? Is there anything you wish you would have done differently?
If you want to help defensive employees, you will need to make sure you are not defensive. By leading yourself, you will be able to set a positive example for your employees.
Take care of your body and emotions before you go into an emotionally charged environment. Simple things like getting enough sleep, nutritious meals, and a calming practice like meditation or prayer can help you respond calmly in negative situations.
When you are starting to feel defensive, pause before you respond.
Take a neutral position with your body language and tone.
Are you aware of the upcoming changes in your industry? Preparing for change ahead of time can make it easier to adjust your plans. Set aside some time monthly or quarterly to review industry and consumer trends. Consider how each will affect your buying patterns, supply availability, marketing, and follow-up process.
If you struggle to adapt to change, find people on your team who like change! Incorporate them into the process described in activity number two and have them consider possible solutions. When the time comes to formally change the way you are doing business, these people will buy into the change and help others get on board. Their support will also give you peace of mind during the transition process.