Kendall L. Stewart, M.D.
Why are leaders hesitant to do this?
It never fails. When you find a leader who gets angry frequently, that leader is thin skinned. While their sensitivity to every perceived slight, criticism or frustration causes them real distress, they remain clueless. Year after painful year, they keep blaming others and expecting people to stop doing the things that annoy them. Their lack of insight would be laughable if it were not so pathetic.
What is the case for doing it anyway?
You have probably realized by now that the most successful and contented leaders grow thick skins. The same annoying things happen to them. They just absorb the nicks and blows and press forward without complaining or even giving the usual aggravations of life much thought. When their thin-skinned colleagues whine, they smile knowingly and think, “Put your big girl panties on,” or some similar leadership pearl.
How can you do it?
- Recognize the need. If you find yourself getting your feelings hurt often or becoming angry frequently, you need to toughen up. The sooner you recognize this need, the sooner you will begin to make some progress.
- Consult a thick-skin expert. You know who they are. These leaders are happy and content, positive about the challenges they face even when the hits they are taking would send you to the bathroom in tears. Ask them how they toughened themselves up and how they keep themselves in shape.
- Practice. Put yourself in the thick of things. Volunteer to take the lead on a project that you know will make you a target. When the hits start landing, act like you are enjoying them. Welcome criticism. Thank people for asking the hard questions. Before you know it, you will have calluses over your heart.
How have you thickened your leadership skin?