Call Us Today: 845-463-3838

Champion Leadership Blog

Defense Wins Championships in Sports, But Creates Losers in Business

In sports “defense” wins championships.

In the “contact sport” of workplace “feedback” responding in a “defense” manner does not project championship caliber performance.

Yesterday, in a conversation with the CEO of a national organization, well known in its industry, I learned one of her direct reports, a vice-president reacted “defensive” when confronted with “constructive” feedback.

The feedback came from both team members this VP had direct responsibility for, and peers. The constructive feedback from all sources was consistent.

This was a vice-president in the organization.

Someone at that level of an organization has to be a better role model for performance feedback.

It provided me with immediate insights into the type of workplace culture this was.

Why would someone respond to feedback “defensively?”

There are three reasons:

  • They feel threatened from above. The individual feels they can’t “look bad” in front of their boss,
  • They feel threatened from below. The individual believes the people they are leading are retaliating for something, or someone may be trying to make them look bad because they have their eye on this individual’s job; or,
  • Neither of the above situations are valid and the individual just has extremely low self-esteem and their ego can’t take the “attack.”

I’m used to hearing this about mid-level and frontline employees who are “defensive” when provided “constructive feedback.”

It’s rare I hear that senior leaders react this way.

There are two reasons for this phenomenon:

  1. They are not exposed to constructive feedback from direct reports and peers in the form of 360 evaluations; or
  2. They are comfortable in their position with high self-esteem and respond appropriately when feedback is offered.

My bet is on #1, though.

What do you think?

What is your experience with senior company leaders and company owners soliciting feedback from those they lead?

Leave a comment below and next time I’ll share with you my secret leadership strategy to creating an environment where frontline and mid-level employees are open to the constructive feedback you need to provide to create a workforce that performs like a champion.

’til next time, Communicate with Power,

skip-weisman-professional speaker-small business championship coach

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Claim Your Free REPORT:

"The Employee Motivation Equation"

A Simple 3-Part Formula that Inspires Employees to Contribute Better Than Ever:

Our Clients Include:

Inspired Audience Member Shares His Experience

“You really inspired me! Your keynote address gave me the guts to begin shouting from the mountaintop…

‘Hire me, I am good at what I do!’ ”

Mark Curtis
TV Anchor & Author

The City of Hartford MHIS Division

Satisfied Clients Speak

"The work Skip did with our Information Technologies Division transformed how we communicate and work together, including bringing us a new identity and name, as the city’s Metro Hartford Innovation Services Department.

Skip’s ability to customize his approach and bring flexibility to our specific needs, situation and unique work environment, gave us just what we needed, when we needed it. He’s been a pleasure to work with and brought our organization high-value and a measurable return on our investment."

Sabina E. Sitaru, PMP MISM
Chief Innovation Officer
The City of Hartford & Hartford City Schools