Both passive and aggressive behaviour is defensive. All defensive behaviour originates from within our thinking. At the core of all defensiveness, whether it is physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, is a thought, which often has grown into a belief that we must protect our selves from others, go it alone and be self-sufficient.

In essence, at the core of all defensive behaviour is an attempt to gain some benefit that provides us with personal security.

The fact is, we often believe that personal security will lead to happiness. We learn that if we work hard, we will get the personal security of a good job, if we have the security of a good job, we will get the personal safety of being successful, and if we are successful, then we will be happy. This drive for personal security and the resulting beliefs do work to some extent.

That is, they work until we try to lead or influence others. Then we find that those same beliefs begin to work against us. Security-based beliefs start to produce undesirable effects.

Take “competition” as an example. If we compete with others, we believe we will get better results, we will be the first in line for the next promotion, and we will be more significant. If we compete with others, we will be the winner – we will prove that we are better than others and reinforce our positions. If we are competitive, we believe we will be personally successful.

It will work until we try to lead others. When we compete with those whom we lead, we isolate ourselves from them; we shut down good ideas; we stifle creativity; we make people feel inadequate; we encourage them to dis-engage. All in the name of getting the best results.

It is not that security-based beliefs are wrong or bad. It is just that they produce undesirable effects and ineffective behaviour when it comes to leading others.

The reality is to be an effective leader we need to be driven by satisfaction, not security. Instead of being competitive, we need to be encouraging of others and work with them.

The challenge for leaders who want to be constructive and authentic is that it is necessary to let go of security. It takes courage and effort to let go of security, become vulnerable and develop new, satisfaction based beliefs.

“AUTHENTICITY is a daily practice. Choosing authenticity means: cultivating the COURAGE to be emotionally honest, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable; exercising the COMPASSION that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle and connected to each other through a loving and resilient human spirit; nurturing the CONNECTION and sense of belonging that can only happen when we let go of what we are supposed to be and embrace who we are.”

Brené Brown

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