Denise Brosseau - Building Well-Connected Leaders
She Just Can’t Handle the Truth
How many of you watch America’s Next Top Model? Anyone willing to admit that?
I started watching this show with my now college-aged niece when she was 15 and now I still tend to tune in to a few episodes every season.
Last week there was an interesting twist on the show – based around this woman you see here – Louise.
Before you dismiss this blog thinking what could America's Next Top Model, or ANY reality show teach me about my life, let me assure you that there is a strong parallel between this show and real corporate life. Read on and then you can decide.
Now you may or may not know the way this show works. At the start of the show there are 14 girls and each week they participate in photo shoots and various exercises and one of them gets eliminated at the end of the week as they fail to live up to expectations.
Ever feel like that’s how it works at your company – only they drag it out a bit more?
The other thing you have to know is that there are a panel of judges and guest judges who are the ones who vote on whether a model gets to stay or not every week. These judges interact with the girls during the photo shoots and exercises and when it comes to the final judging session they weigh in with their opinion on what occurred during their interactions with each contestant.
In fact, that sounds a lot like what happens in corporate America, doesn’t it? You interact with the senior executives in your firm throughout the year and then they go behind closed doors to decide what they think of your performance – whether you will stay or you will go.
During this week’s program, Louise and the other girls were asked to put together a photo shoot on their own – including choosing the sets, costumes, props, actors, etc. There were two teams and they each selected a leader and the teams competed against one another while one of the guest judges advised and observed.
Louise was not selected as one of the team leaders, but during the 2 days of the exercise others often sought her out for her opinion and deferred to her because she was far more capable than the team leader. She stepped into a leadership role and also performed beautifully during her own photo shoot as you see above.
Judge Kelly CutroneUnfortunately, she had one little flaw – she couldn’t take criticism.
At one point the guest judge, Kelly Cutrone, made a suggestion to one of Louise's teammates about how to assure their project was a success and off camera Louise says, "I can't believe how rude she is."
On the other team, when Kelly points out a similar issue to their team leader, that girl decides "Kelly really says it straight, she has to. That's the position she's in - she's running this big agency." She sees the feedback as a gift and immediately incorporates Kelly's input into her plans.
Later, when Kelly noticed something Louise herself was doing that really wasn’t helping the team succeed, she pointed it out to her.
Louise was furious and didn't do much to hide it – partially because she had already decided Kelly was not her ally (she was "rude"), but also because she had a running story in her head that she was not being appreciated for all her hard work and all the great things she was doing for the team.
Not only did she not take the suggestion with good grace, by the time the panel of judges came to review her performance, she argued with the guest judge in front of everyone and then stormed out of the room, taking herself out of the competition.
I think this is the first time I’ve seen this happen on this show, but it is NOT the first time I’ve seen this in real life.
You’ve seen it too, haven’t you? People who can’t accept criticism but instead want to argue or justify or get defensive. People who take themselves out of the game rather than believe that others might have their best interests at heart and want to help.
Mentors and sponsors and bosses will critique you. That’s their role. You can decide how you want to handle it.
What’s that line that Jack Nicholson says in A Few Good Men – "You just can’t handle the truth?"
Does that apply to you?
Jack Nicholson in A Few Good MenHow do you respond when someone gives you feedback? Or criticism?
What is your boss, mentor, sponsor trying to tell you that you have been avoiding, ducking or defending against?
Are you appreciating the input or running in the other direction?
Are you taking yourself out of the game or staying in and playing to win?
Asking for and responding to constructive criticism is a lifelong challenge for some of us. We don't always hear it as constructive or we aren't really sure that the person who is giving us the feedback is really on our side. Or, we have some story in our head that says "I already know that" or "They don't appreciate me."
When you go back to the office tomorrow, take a moment to ask your mentor what one piece of feedback they have given you that they most wish you'd acted on. You might be surprised what you learn and I'm guessing they will be amazed to know that you just CAN handle the truth.
Let me know what happens!
Posted by Denise Brosseau on 18th March, 2012 | Comments
Tags: handling criticism, sponsors, mentors, careers
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