This One Trait Will Destroy Your Leadership

There are lots of traits that can harm your leadership. But the most dangerous—the trait that carries a real danger of destroying your ability to lead—is defensiveness.

No one enjoys taking criticism, but if you can’t listen to others and take in what those around you are saying, you’re slowly eroding your leadership, even if you don’t realize it. Here are some questions to help you identify the principal danger signs in yourself:

Are you closed off to criticism? if you cannot listen to criticism you will never know what people actually think. Unless you are willing to hear the candid thoughts of people you trust, you cannot develop or grow as a leader, and you will likely lose the respect of your people.

Do you deny your mistakes or faults? You can’t learn from your mistakes if you’re busy trying to deny they exist. The best leaders are humble enough to see their mistakes, courageous enough to admit them and wise enough to correct them.

Do you rationalize away your failures? Nobody wants hear how you justify your mistakes as a leader—they want to know what you’ve learned in the process, how failure has made you smarter and better. The best route to respect is to be candid about your own missteps and failures.

Do you get upset at the messenger who brings bad news? If you punish those who are honest with you, no one will tell you truth. An important part of being a leader is showing strength and tenacity in the face of bad news, focusing on solutions rather than lashing out.

Do you blame others for your problems? When you try to blame others for your own shortcoming and problems, it shows your low self-esteem as a leader. It’s never easy, but you have to show that you’re courageous enough to accept your faults and strong enough to take corrective action.

Do you ignore others? If you don’t listen to others, others won’t listen to you. It’s that simple.

Do you lead with a sensitive ego? A sensitive ego is one that protects you from pain. It can also prevent a you from maturing mentally and emotionally by causing you to distort truths and ignore unpleasant facts about yourself. When you fail to connect with and show your authentic self, you cast your leadership into question.

Do you shut down negative feedback? Trying to keep things quiet doesn’t make them go away—and most of the time it doesn’t even work. Make yourself listen to the good and the bad, because what you don’t own will end up owning you.

Are you unapproachable? As a leader, you should be both approachable and accessible. You can’t lead when you’re closed in.

If you’re concerned that defensiveness is harming your leadership, get your ego out of the way and start working through to the honesty and integrity that foster great leadership.

Lead from within: Defensiveness is a sign of failure. You can’t move forward in your leadership until you overcome it.


#1 N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R

The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

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