Recently I had done a post on The leadership skill of letting go. On similar lines, another attribute we need to master to become better leaders is acceptance. Sure, when we look at leaders on the outside, they have the ability to have a clear vision for success, show it to others, inspire people and take them along together towards the vision. However, to become that leader, there are certain things any individual must learn, imbibe, and become. Leaders are human beings too, and to have that human machinery operating at its highest potential one cannot ignore feelings and emotions and understanding when they enable you and when they are a deterrent to achieving your goals. We all are putting acceptance in practice on a daily basis; like the engineering manager who prevents himself from going down that rabbit hole of the code although he loves doing it because he has other responsibilities now, or the team leader who has to accept that this team member is not going to get less tardy unless certain consequences are shown to her. Leadership is about consciously applying acceptance.

What does acceptance really mean?

According to psychology principles, acceptance is an individual’s assent to the reality of a situation by recognising a condition or process without attempting to change it or protest it – very often a negative or uncomfortable situation. A complaining or victim mindset goes against acceptance. Complaining becomes a tool in the attempt to not accept where you are in a circumstance or situation. The problem with that is you do not move forward. You get stuck in the frequency of the problem and don’t move to the frequency of solutions which is a different frequency and vibe. Acceptance helps you move – it could be forward/upward or sideways, but at least it gets you “unstuck.”

It is not easy to see what is it that you really need to accept. Structured self-reflection, especially with the support of a coach, can help tremendously.

Again, considering the typical responsibilities of leaders – competencies like delegation, strategic thinking, giving feedback, taking risks, making quick and right decisions, and conflict resolution, among others must be strengthened and developed.

Let’s see where acceptance has its place in these.


To be able to delegate successfully, it is important to recognise the advantages of delegation to you, your team members, and the organisation. Acceptance of the fact that other people may do things differently and be comfortable with that is the skill here. The more liberal delegators have to accept that their responsibility does not go away completely.

Conflict resolution

If you find yourself caught in an unhealthy conflict situation, it is imperative to accept the uniqueness and differences in others. The course of the argument or conflict will change to a more amiable result if you pause and question what you need to accept about that person or situation.

Often those individuals who are people pleasers must accept their own need to stick to their ethics or values and not bend to their peers or seniors such that they feel compromised later.

Team management

To be a good leader and to manage your team members well, you have to accept where each person is at. Their aspirations, personal lives, and motivations are unique to them. Every person comes with their strengths and areas of development. Unless you accept that you cannot help them overcome or leverage it to grow.


Innovation happens when people are more accepting of failure. If people find failure scary or upsetting, it implies they are not accepting it, which means they are not using it to learn what it has to teach for progress.

Innovation is also hindered if we are too accepting of the status quo. That generally means we are ignoring limitations or accepting sub-par products, processes, or behaviours.

The best way to practice this skill is to look inwards and consider where you must be more accepting of yourself. Start this internal inquiry by asking yourself this one simple question, “What do I need to accept in this situation?” You will be surprised at what you might tell yourself and how rapidly that will take your further.

Bhavna Dalal
Bhavna Dalal

Views are personal.

The author is the founder and CEO of Talent Power Partners a global Leadership Development company based in Bangalore. She is a Leadership Development Specialist, an ICF Certified Executive Coach [PCC] and author of the book - Team Decision Making.

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