[June 27, 2014] A well-known characteristic of great senior leaders is a thick-skinned personality. This is only possible when the leader is one that possesses extensive, broadly-based, and relevant experiences. Yet, this does not necessarily mean the leader is arrogant or uncaring. In the best of leaders, being thick-skinned means also being humble and optimistic.
Being thick skinned means being able to personally deal with the failures, rejections, insults, and other stresses that comes with leading. All leaders can expect to face criticism of all decisions. This is particularly true of senior leaders. Senior leaders can anticipate the worst from the ill-informed, the immature, the resentful, and the power-hungry types. Today, these people are everywhere and are encouraged by the notoriety they get from attacking others.
Good examples of those who had to quickly develop a thick skin against criticism were Steve Jobs, Abraham Lincoln, and Colonel Sanders. These men had many failures and rejections, their decisions second guessed, and experienced name-calling on a grand scale. A recent example of a women who developed a thick skin was Sarah Palin. All overcame the small but numerous attacks on them and their families. They did so with grace. Those who inappropriately attacked them showed their lack of intellect and lack of professionalism.
“I have a thick skin, but I have a heart.” – Dan Savage
Leaders that develop a thick-skinned personality must never lose sight of the fact that there is a downside to it. Overcoming arrogance and a lack of caring should be on their list of things to avoid.
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[Some good links on being thick skinned]