The Self-Awareness Guy

Why Are Leaders So Stubborn?

Leaders sometimes think that being stubborn is the same as being right about something. They hang on to their position no matter what happens because they just don’t see any other option. There’s nothing terribly wrong with this behavior but it does affect the leader and team involved; usually in less than positive ways. Here’s a couple of things to think about if you know someone who is amazingly stubborn.

Being Stubborn is a Defense Mechanism

People who are stubborn hang on to their beliefs at all costs because they feel they are defending something very important.  Even if the issue doesn’t seem important to others, it is to them.  People in this situation frequently believe that if they give up their position, something terrible will happen.

Being Stubborn is a Dead End Street

Once someone decides to be stubborn they have painted themselves into a corner because they severely limit any options to fix anything. They hang onto their point of view no matter what and literally can’t explore other options because they don’t allow for any.

What is Right?

Stubborn people frequently think they are right but, if you think about it, what’s right and what’s wrong? We can usually measure what’s right by whether the results of a given behavior leads to positive outcomes. Yet most stubborn behavior just leads to entrenchment. I’m not certain most people would say that being stuck is the same as being right or happy.

So What Can We Do?

Stubbornness can be a daunting challenge. Some people are so stubborn that they will live a miserable life just to prove their point. The only real way to alleviate stubbornness is for someone to get help to interrupt the behavior patterns and beliefs that lead to the current situation. There’s not much other people can do except make themselves available to talk with the person and set limits and boundaries.

Being stubborn rarely leads to positive results and it isn’t very effective at creating inspiring workplaces. The good news is that the cycle can be interrupted by taking a good look at oneself and slightly shifting the behaviors that lead to being stubborn. The result?  Greater happiness and more successful leaders.


6 thoughts on “Why Are Leaders So Stubborn?

  1. Sondra Denney

    Hello Guy,I probably fall into the category of stubborn -oh so hard to admit!!!-and in reading your post it struck me how few people are willing to see themselves this way. It’s not very flattering, is it? Most of us who read this-myself included- probably thought of two or three people immediately, and it is unlikely they included themselves. Yet who can I realistically hope to change? Only myself! Is there ever anything we can do to help someone we live with be less stubborn?

    1. Unconventional Training

      Hi Sondra,

      Congratulations on your marvelous insight. It takes a certain amount of self-awareness to admit that there is any issue. I appreciate your comment. The thing I tend to focus on regarding stubbornness is the end result it has on our lives. If we are being stubborn and it causes discomfort or affects our growth then the payoff for getting rid of it is that we get to live a better life. We usually hang onto any behavior simply because we’re used to it but, luckily, we can change the way we approach things little by little.The next time you feel stubborn just be aware that you’re feeling it and think of an alternative that makes sense to you. It could be listening to the other person or taking a walk; anything you would like to do to interrupt the pattern. When you’ve succeeded in interrupting the pattern (which takes time and practice) then make sure to celebrate. We don’t need to change ourselves radically, just small shifts in our behavior. Let me know how it goes.

      Take care,


  2. Rebecca

    Great article! Being stubborn is a waste of energy. Most people who are stubborn probably just want their thoughts and opinions to be heard and respected. They want to no they matter.

  3. starrynightcoach

    Something that can sometimes help when dealing with someone who is being stubborn is to empathize with them. If they see you really respecting their position they can be more flexible about it, or at least let you in on why they are being so inflexible. You might even end up agreeing with them if they relax and tell you more!

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