A few days ago, I was exposed to a quote by, Andy Stanley, one of the leaders who has had a tremendous impact on my approach to leadership and, once again, he has provided me a leadership insight that is so helpful! The thought is this:
"Great leaders absorb. Mediocre leaders defend."
In my leadership experience there is no doubt that on many occasions I have chosen the path of the mediocre leader and been defensive. Here are three things that I have allowed myself to defend that, moving forward, I will, instead, absorb.
Though you may see the two as different things, many times passive aggressive people disguise their criticism by calling it feedback, or as insecure leaders we mistaken honest feedback for being criticism. But, regardless of what it is being communicated (criticism or feedback), we must choose to absorb it and not defend against it. There is something that can be learned from every piece of criticism/feedback that is received, and it is the great leader that exchanges defensiveness for humility and allows him/herself to learn from it rather than be offended by it.
2. FALSE ACCUSATIONS
Now don't get me wrong, if someone is accusing you of something that, if true, can disqualify you or have you removed from your position of leadership you must defend yourself. But, if someone is accusing you of things that may just be hurtful to you or harmful to your reputation, the wise decision is to absorb rather than defend. Why? Instead of investing your energies defending the things that are not true about you, great leaders invest their energies building on what is true about them!
3. TRUE MISTAKES
When you are wrong, own it, don't defend it. "Absorbing" your mistakes means admitting them, taking responsibility for the consequences of them, and choosing not to blame someone else for why you did what you did. Great leaders confess without hemming, hawing, or hedging. The more defensive of your mistakes you are, the less credible of a leader you become. The weakest leaders aren't those who make mistakes, the weakest leaders are those who make mistakes and can't admit the fact that they have!
Will your life be defined by mediocrity or greatness? The answer may be found in whether or not you, when given the opportunity, choose to absorb or defend. I hope you and I can have the courage and wisdom to choose the former and not the latter. After all, for those of us who identify as Christians, is this not what our Savior chose to do?