The Unseen Costs of Being Reactive

The Unseen Costs of Being Reactive

“The Leadership Circle” developed an assessment tool I use in my leadership development work that has helped guide thousands of leaders to a more effective style of leadership. The tool probes deeply how people act as leaders, and also uniquely surfaces why we do what we do. The why results are called our “Reactive” tendencies and fall into three categories: Complying, Protecting and Controlling.

It turns out that the way we do anything is the way we do everything, and likely have been doing for most of our life – and there is an unseen cost to remaining in these behaviors. For example, in the past I had a tendency to let others speak before I did and sometimes kept my thoughts to myself (complying behavior). I’m now aware of the latent fears behind these behaviors that were probably based on getting “shushed” a few too many times or made wrong for speaking my opinions. 

This behavior kept me mostly out of trouble but I found the more I complied, the more I got what I didn’t really want – more of the same thing from other people around me. Funny how I believed the “be quiet” voice inside would actually keep me happy. It didn’t – when I did speak up I wasn’t very skilled at giving voice to my inner thoughts and so it drastically upset a few relationships. At best the behavior was ineffective. At worst, the unseen costs of remaining passive became outwardly damaging.

Through my own personal growth, I’m learning more how to be skillful at speaking up at the same time I give myself permission not to sacrifice honesty for skillfulness. By having a clear sense of what I’d like the outcome to be I can commit to everyone’s voice being heard. And what a difference! People begin to respect and even ask for my thoughts and listen intently to what I have to say.

Where do you think your Reactive behaviors are getting unnecessarily in your way and what are the unseen costs of continuing them?