Leadership Armor

During a conversation about a leadership team, we noted that some of the team members didn’t have appropriate “leadership armor!” While it’s all the rage to talk about openness and transparency, we believe that there is a place for armor; otherwise everything feels like a personal attack.
The definition of armor is a defensive covering. There are times that leaders must be prepared to have their ideas shot down, be challenged, or get criticized.  When this happens, it’s important to shield yourself and remember that it’s not personal. This could also be known as having a thick skin, except that’s not removable!
One CEO that we’ve worked with has had challenging board members over the years. She’s valiantly tried to listen to them, work with them and even placate them. However, there are times when nothing she does makes a difference. Our advice is to “make like a duck and let it roll off your back.”
We fully support the need to be open and vulnerable. That’s why armor is helpful. You can put it on and take it off. Leaders who never wear it can feel personally attacked, like several members of the leadership team we’re working with. Leaders who always wear their armor are often seen as less trustworthy than if they exhibited some vulnerability. Use it when needed and then remove it.
Leading others includes times of joy and times of pain! Reduce the personal pain, not by caring less, but by putting on your leadership armor. Your leadership armor will support you when you are stepping into uncomfortable places with your team, when you are leading a change no one wants or when you have to make a difficult decision others don’t agree with. Whatever the leadership challenge, be comfortable with the attacks and prepared with your armor! Just don’t forget to take it off when the arrows have subsided.
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