Thursday, July 1

Leadership Thoughts: Dealing with Criticism

Regardless of what level of leadership in which you serve - from the Chairman of the Board to a parent - you are going to have to deal with criticism. It come with the territory. You are not going to be able to avoid it (unless you choose not to lead), so you are going to have to deal with criticism constructively.

Of course, that is easier said than done! My natural tendency when I receive criticism is to get defensive - even when it is constructive criticism from friends. That response never helps. When I get defensive, I quit listening for what truth or helpful information there might be in the criticism and start justifying myself (at least mentally).

For example: Last week, I served as the head high jump official at the US Track and Field Championships in Des Moines. Our crew of six officials was responsible for each of the eight high jump competitions that took place during the Championships. In this size of meet, there are all kinds of people who are looking over your shoulder and evaluating the event: Meet Directors, Referees, National Technical Officials, officials working other events, media personnel, etc. And there were several who had suggestions for me about how our event should be run.

As mentioned earlier, my first response was defensiveness. My ego kicked in: "This is my event and my crew. We will do things my way." But when I was able to step away from that response and really listen to the suggestions being offered, I found that some were valuable. I listened to some of the criticism and it helped us run a better event. Other suggestions I listened to and chose not to follow. But all the suggestions were considered and evaluated.

If you are going to be effective as a leader, you are going to have to learn to do the same thing - to listen, evaluate, and choose what to keep and what to disregard. This is especially true when you are surrounded by people who are as committed to the "cause" as you are. They need to know that they are heard and their input is valuable, even if it doesn't always result in change. Ultimately, as the leader, you have to decide which suggestions to heed and which to disregard.

This is also true for those of us who are parents as our children grow into their teen years. They need to know that their concerns matter and that we will listen to them. We might not take the course of action that they would prefer, but they need to know that their voice is heard.

So when criticism comes:

* Let go of defensiveness and ego.
* Listen and learn.
* Ask yourself, "Does this criticism have validity? Does this suggestion help us to better accomplish our purpose?"
* Determine what actions, if any, you need to take and move forward.

"He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray." Proverbs 10:17

"Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid." Proverbs 12:1

"Wounds from a friend can be trusted ..." Proverbs 27:6

1 comment:

Ben said...

Very true, many people are guilty of doing that.
Where's the video? :)