One of the toughest questions we have to answer in leadership comes from those who don't agree with our choices. Leadership comes with its set of setbacks. Definitely one of the setbacks we all must learn to overcome is criticisms. If you're a leader, your going to be kicked in the pants by the criticism of others. I want you to know that if you get kicked in the rear it's only because you are out in front! Here are four steps to help you deal with the criticism that comes with leadership.
Step 1- Know yourself. This is all about understanding your strengths and weaknesses. If you know your strengths, you can focus on them and not be pulled into criticisms of your weaknesses. By defining your weaknesses, you can look for others on your team to fill those gaps rather than trying to develop them into strength areas.
Step 2- Change yourself. This is all about you taking responsibility for you. You can grow by receiving criticism with the right attitude. Be open to improvement by avoiding defensiveness. Be willing to change in the areas where change benefits you and those you lead. You can look for the grain of truth that exists in any critique. Be willing to make the changes necessary to improve your relationships with your employees. Finally, take the high road by thanking the person sharing their criticism for helping you learn and grow.
Step 3- Accept yourself. This is an issue of personal maturity,
Professor and author Leo Buscaglia counseled, “The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don’t let them put you in that position. To be the best person and leader you can be, you need to be yourself. That doesn’t mean that you aren’t willing to grow and change. It just means that you work to become the best you that you can be. As psychologist Carl Rogers remarked, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change." Being who you really are is the first step in becoming better than you are.
Step 4- Forget yourself. The final step in the process of effectively handling criticism is to stop focusing on yourself. When we were growing up, a lot of us spent a good deal of time worrying about what the world thought of us. Now I’m forty six and I realize the world really hasn't been paying much attention to me after all! .I've developed this policy: when entering a room, go to critics first. Tell them you value and appreciate them. Uncross their arms. Take the high road. You'll be surprised how little people are thinking of you when you start thinking of them!
I hope these 4 steps to dealing with criticism add value to your leadership journey. If you'd like more help in learning how to do this or help teaching your team how to do this, please send me an email through my contact page.
W. Shane McKenzie is an Executive Coach and Mentor who specializes in helping successful leaders leave their job to own a business using proven strategies to minimize risk.