Create a Collaborative Culture (Part 2 of 4)

Last week I talked about a specific way senior leaders can create a culture of collaboration by simply becoming aware of triggers.

Senior leaders have to model self-regulation to set the example of aligning with the cultural values. Today’s mini lesson is how to specifically manage yourself when you would otherwise be defensive.

Buy some time

When you feel misunderstood, it’s easy to go into defense mode. For example, when you’re on the receiving end of critical feedback that you didn’t expect it’s common to start debating instead of listening. For example, an executive director is given critical feedback about their management style. The next meeting instead of admitting the need for course-correction, they justify their past decisions by listing all of their past accomplishments. The desire to be understood overrides the ability to listen and apply critical feedback.  What’s really needed is the acknowledgement of what has been said, with a plan to correct the behavior.  Here are some ways to buy time when you’ve been caught off guard or feel misunderstood:

    • I admit that surprised me.
    • I need time to process this before I respond.
    • Let me think about how to apply this feedback.
    • I’d like to reflect on this and meet again next week to discuss.


The benefit of buying time is to process unwanted and unexpected information so you can plan how to respond in a way that shows you are listening and working on improvement.

I’ll see you in 2024 where I’ll finish the series on how to create a more collaborative culture.

Happy Holidays,
Marlene Chism