How To Be a Caring Leader Without Getting Trampled
Working as a solopreneur and serving in leadership roles for community organizations are extremely gratifying, but in the process of putting myself out there, I occasionally run into resistance to the ideas and initiatives I propose. I know it “comes with the territory”, but I don’t enjoy being in the position of showing grace under fire. I take it personally. I know people don’t intend their skepticism to be a personal attack on me (at least I hope they don’t!), but I tend to interpret it that way regardless.
There’s plenty of commentary out there that says what “they” think doesn’t matter. That self-worth comes from within. That’s great, but not all of us can suppress the need to want to please all of the people all of the time – even if it is impossible.
Does that mean we make lousy entrepreneurs and leaders? I believe not. But we need to learn to cocoon our caring nature in a layer of thick skin.
Caring is critical when it comes to running your own business and leading others in any capacity. Your quality and commitment to clients and causes are directly linked to how much you care about what you do and the people you’re working with. It’s also important, however, to develop some immunity to criticism and adversity.
How do you do that? Here are a few pointers to help you through challenging circumstances that can drag your esteem down:
1. Take 10 – Seconds, minutes, hours…whatever you’re at liberty to take to acclimate to the resistance and prepare your response. During that time, put yourself in the naysayers’ shoes to determine where they’re coming from. Maybe they don’t understand the topic enough to see the value, maybe they’re afraid of change, or maybe they’re just that type of person who degrades any and all ideas if they didn’t think of them. Getting your bearings on their perspective can help you formulate your approach and response.
2. Focus on the positive more than the negative – Don’t let your detractors steal the spotlight and darken your spirits. Most likely you’ve got far more people in support of you than there are who are pooh-poohing everything you say and do. Keep that in perspective and your self-confidence won’t take a nose dive.
3. Be prepared – The best defense is a solid offense. Before you present an idea or initiative, give some thought to the questions, debates and negativity you might encounter – and plan how you will respond if any of them manifest themselves. Not only will you have more credibility with your audience, but you’ll also feel much more confident if and when you’re hit with tough questions and attitudes.
How do you manage keeping your self-esteem intact when meeting resistance from naysayers?