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The Hidden Cost of Defensive Alpha Leadership

Too many times, I've heard clients say, "Roberto, I was listening politely to what they had to say. I think I show openness to their views."

It's a common misconception among many alpha leaders that merely appearing interested during conversations signifies high openness.

And there is a cost to that: ideas are blocked, communication is difficult, the organization misses growth opportunities, and it lowers employee morale.

True openness goes beyond not being labeled defensive—it's about cultivating a constructive state of mind and understanding how our behavior affects those around us.

Consider the scale below, from highly open (+10) to highly defensive (-10).

Where do you find yourself most often?

  • Do you tend to lean more toward openness or defensiveness?

  • Can you recall situations where you've exhibited behaviors at various points on this scale?

Now take a look at these questions for self-reflection:

  • How might your default behaviors on this scale impact your team dynamics? How about your personal relationships?

  • What personal beliefs or experiences could contribute to your default openness or defensiveness?

  • What stressors are you typically experiencing when defensive?

  • Is this holding you back from career growth?

  • What would be the benefits of moving up the scale towards greater openness?

Finally, here are a few ways to become less defensive:

  • Self-awareness - Regularly check in with yourself during interactions. Are you genuinely engaged, or are you planning your rebuttal?

  • Curiosity - Embrace curiosity. Are you interested in what people offer or merely stuck in your ideas? Curiosity fosters openness and leads to better understanding and problem-solving.

  • Active Listening - Truly listen to others' perspectives without rushing to defend yourself. This practice promotes respect and collaboration. You'd be surprised at how creative and clever others are when they feel you are truly listening without being afraid of your defensive reactions.

  • Responsibility - Take ownership of your role in situations, especially problematic ones. If you're wrong or interrupt them, acknowledge it and take responsibility for your behavior. This will signal maturity and trustworthiness.

Remember, the objective is not to completely eradicate defensiveness—sometimes, it's a natural human response.

However, frequent and unchecked defensiveness can hinder effective communication, damage relationships, and stifle company growth.

As Alpha leaders, you can promote a culture of openness and curiosity over simply "being right."

And trust me, it's much more liberating for yourself too.


You're an Alpha Leader - brilliant, driven, formidable. But what about the emotional landscape of leadership? It can sometimes strain relationships and team dynamics.

Here is where I come in.

Together, we'll shape you into an Empathic Alpha Leader, where strength meets understanding, and decisiveness pairs with empathy.

Start your journey to empathic leadership today.



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