If you have ever been in a leadership position, whether at work or elsewhere, being criticized comes with the territory. If you are trying to move your organization forward, you will be criticized by those who don’t embraced the change. Conversely, if you are not doing anything, you will be criticized by those who feel you should be. How you handle this criticism will be key to how effective your leadership will be. What are some of the keys to managing criticism? Consider the following.
- First, recognize that with leadership comes criticism. If you do not want to be criticized, do not aspire to leadership.
- Do not take criticism personally. This is perhaps the most difficult thing to do because your emotions want to intervene. Don’t let them.
- Be appreciative of the criticism. Without it, you cannot learn what course corrections may be needed. Encouraged genuine, constructive criticism.
- Ferret out genuine criticism from the whining and complaining. Genuine criticism represents another’s opinion, which is designed to offer an opposing viewpoint meant to improve the situation. Whining and complaining is just that, it is not offered as a means to improve the situation. If you’re not sure if the criticism is genuine, drill down and ask questions designed to reveal the motive of the one who is criticizing. You will usually be able to find out pretty quickly if the criticism is sincere or not.
- If you continue to hear the same or similar criticisms about a policy or situation, dig deeper. This typically represents real opportunity for improvement. Whatever you do, don’t ignore it.
- Develop a network of go-to people. You need to have some people whom you trust, whose judgment you value, and who will give you the unvarnished truth. Don’t be afraid to seek their opinion, and be open to their feedback even if it does not agree with your opinion.
- Don’t beat yourself up. If you have done your very best to field the complaint without emotion, evaluate for merit, then institute corrective action, that is all you can do. Keep your eyes focused on the goal and keep moving, because just like the news cycle, there will be new complaints coming your way that you must be attentive to.
Criticism can either be crippling or can serve as a catapult for positive change. How you view it may in large part define your success as a leader.