The ability to receive feedback, even when it’s critical, and bounce back from adversity are just two of many characteristics that make for a great leader. How many of these traits do you possess?
Here’s an interesting litmus test to apply to the headlines as you sip your coffee this morning or watch the evening news tonight. If you look for it you’ll see a common strain. Someone somewhere will be under attack, criticized for a failed policy, facing an indiscretion that has come back to haunt them, or for making a misstatement that is now being roundly assailed in the media.
Someone once said that the essence of story is and always has been conflict. If that’s the case then the daily news is the petri dish for great stories because it is rife with conflict.
I grew up in the corporate world and made my career there. I learned a thing or two about conflict and how to survive it. I learned even more about people and what distinguished a limited few from the masses when it came to how they dealt with adversity or more specifically, criticism.
Here is the insight I eventually gained (and unfortunately this was not an overnight process.)
Everyone is at their best when they dictate the game. Far fewer are effective when the game is being dictated to them. Said another way, if you really want to know the character of an individual, watch them when the bright lights of scrutiny, criticism, or adversity are being directed toward them.
Many lose their way then. I liken it to the same phenomenon I see in combat sports like boxing and mixed martial arts. The offensive dynamo that withers when the opponent punches back often suffers from what experts describe as the proverbial “glass jaw” meaning that part of the cranium shatters when it’s tapped very hard.
It is very, very real in the business world and I suspect in most careers. That poet laureate Mike Tyson might really have said it best: “Everybody has a plan until they get hit in the face.”
I’ve seen it in leaders at every level and in employees of every type and eventually coined the term, the Iron Jaw Seven to distinguish the truly resilient career travelers from the masses. The characteristics that distinguished this amazing minority are: