Leadership Derailers – Taking Offense

By Dan Rockwell

Leadership gets narrow and life shrinks for the easily offended.

All leaders receive unjust criticism. You’re judged based on inadequate information, false assumptions, or someone’s unspoken preferences.

It’s better to focus on OUR own responsibilities, but it’s easier to know what OTHERS should do.

The negative impact of taking offense:

  1. Coddling an offense limits your potential.
  2. Unresolved offenses become excuses for poor performance.
  3. Rehearsing offenses marginalizes your talent.
  4. Focusing on offenses shrinks your ability to influence because of isolation.
  5. Buried offenses make you brittle.

People lie to protect thin-skinned leaders.

Resolving offenses:

#1. It’s about YOU, not the offense.

Offenses are secondary matters.

You might think offenses are the problem. But the real issue is how YOU respond to offenses.

Your response to offense lets everyone see what’s in your heart.

#2. Get a bigger cup.

If you’re easily offended, you’re constantly in turmoil.

Learn to overlook minor offenses.

When pebbles keep you up at night, don’t expect to find rest. You can’t maximize someone’s strengths when you focus on their weakness.

There is a measure of “putting up with” in all relationships. Stop picking at little scabs or they’ll get infected.

Forgiveness expands your capacity to navigate offenses.

The issue you can’t forgive is the lid of personal growth and useful service.

The ability to integrate offenses expands your capacity to serve.

#3. Bring up issues with purpose in mind.

Sometimes you can’t un-smell a stink.

When you bring it up…

Determine what you want before you bring up an offense.

  1. What do you want FROM others?
  2. What do you want FOR others?
  3. If you successfully resolve the offense, what will be different?
  4. What are you prepared to do to achieve what you want?

When you can’t resolve offenses, YOU become toxic. The Dead Sea is dead because it hangs on to everything.

What suggestions do you have for easily offended leaders?

Dig Deeper:

About 20% of us are genetically sensitive to negative stimuli. We feel the dark stuff more than others.

The Art of Not Taking Offense (Smart Brief)

Trigger Warnings: Science can Explain Why You Get Offended (Inverse)

The Power of Entering the Danger (Table Group)

This post was previously published on Leadership Freak and is republished here with a Creative Commons license.

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Photo credit: iStock