How Leaders Can Deal with Criticism

So how can leaders deal with criticism…

Criticism can be tough to take.

For leaders at the front of an organization or team, much of what you say and do is noticed and commented on.

While this can feel threatening…

The most effective leaders listen to critics as a means of acquiring helpful feedback to improve their personal and organizational performance.

By using criticism constructively…

You can position yourself as someone who learns from mistakes.

This contributes to a culture where executives, managers and employees feel comfortable offering criticism focused on improvement.

“The most senior person in the room doesn’t necessarily have the best idea,” says Walter Levitt, a Canadian media executive who is currently executive vice-president of Comedy Central in New York.

He prefers that people challenge him.

Mr. Levitt, like many successful executives…

Believes that “when a leader is open to criticism, it completely changes the dynamic then people feel relaxed, empowered and it makes for a more honest environment.”

You can learn to become a leader who encourages criticism and accepts failure with composure by practicing the following principles.

Seek different perspectives; value adversary.
Seek different perspectives

In order to make informed decisions…

Leaders need other points of view.

You should actively seek perspectives and opinions from a variety of people throughout your organization…

Not repeatedly the same team members.

The best leaders value the diversity of others’ opinions as a resource, not a threat.

By encouraging helpful, constructive criticism, while discouraging personal attacks, you can cultivate a culture of feedback, where people feel empowered to offer alternative ideas and suggestions and to constructively criticize peers and superiors.

Stop deceiving yourself.

When somebody criticizes your leadership…

It is all too easy to respond by trying to justify your actions and actively try to turn the criticism into praise.

If you focus on the feeling of being misunderstood or misjudged, then you will place yourself right into the position of defensiveness instead of listening openly.

You will be tempted to highlight your achievements, point out how successful your projects are, and how people have rewarded your leadership prowess.

At the same time, you might even be tempted to make comparisons with others and point out their failings in comparison with your achievements.

Unfortunately, all of these reactions are defensive rather than expansive and mindful.

Learn from mistakes.
Learn from mistakes.

Our natural tendency is to react to failure by seeking to blame.

However, when we are focused on avoiding or attributing blame, we prevent ourselves from learning.

Therefore, reframe setbacks as learning opportunities.

Be interested instead of defensive.

Before taking action, strive to understand the mistake and the factors that caused it.

Gather information and feedback.

Ask for examples to help you understand the issue.

Keep an open mind.

Don’t take criticism personally and practice listening calmly.

When you have a good understanding of the mistake or setback and have received feedback regarding possible contributing factors, only then look for solutions.

What did we learn from this?

How can I do better next time?

Separate praise and blame from failure and success.

Praise for work well done and recognition for achievements are accolades that we all seek and these have their place.

Equally, we learn early on the potential benefits of accepting accountability when things go wrong sometimes.

But criticism and praise are not indicators of the failure or success of you or your projects.

Think about how a successful developer will often be criticized by local residents who feel they have lost their amenities despite the project’s success, or about all of Thomas Edison’s failures receiving praise, despite their failings.

Neither example illuminates us as to the real outcome and they both demonstrate that the reality is always much more complex.

For you, it means understanding that criticism isn’t going to undermine your overall success.

Take thoughtful action.
Take thoughtful action.

Take time to reflect on what you have learned.

If the criticisms and suggestions are valid, then adjust your decisions and actions accordingly.

By reflecting before acting, you will demonstrate the kind of reasoned leadership that earns respect from others.

Focus on how to do better in the future rather than on what should have been done.

Make the necessary changes to avoid a similar mistake and then move on.

Use criticism as a means for improving.

Criticism is leveled at leaders for various reasons, with the main one being that people perceive something isn’t working to their benefit or for the greater good of something everyone has a stake in.

When people feel powerless to initiate change and innovation themselves, the leader is the sensible target for expressing their discontent.

First, work out why those that are in charge might be feeling this way and try to remedy it so that they feel they have a greater ability to innovate, participate in developing solutions, and initiate changes.

Second, reflect over the criticism.

Often there is the spot of accuracy in even the most negative criticism and if you can pull out something positive from this, it serves not only you but your business, staff, team, community group, project, whatever it is you’re leading, will benefit as well.

Third, don’t take to heart the obviously nasty criticism.

There will always be people who have resentment because they feel jealousy or personal frustration at not taking action.

Take such nasty critiques in your stride and let it be.

Simply ignore that type of criticism and get on with what you are doing right.

It helps to remember that leaders are the people who act on their ideas whereas many people who criticize with bitterness have had ideas but lacked the will to act.

Praise for the sake of recognition, not as a means of deflecting criticism.
Praise for the sake of recognition

Always note the good that those working under you do, and always make a point of giving them due credit for their efforts.

Don’t praise only when you fear criticism, or you will always be on the back foot.

Moreover, you don’t want people conforming to your way of thinking in order to get your praise.

It is very important to praise a job well done even where you disagree with its method, motives, or outcome, provided it enhances the relevant experience and improves the overall prospects of the business/project/activity, etc.

Role model dealing with criticism.

Let others see good reactions from you when criticized.

Your ability to listen and learn, and your ability to acknowledge where you have made mistakes teaches others that it’s OK to err and that it’s acceptable to change your tactics to ones that are likely to be more effective.

That’s a lesson that only a leader can effectively teach, from moms to boardroom directors!

Actively and optimistically pursue new opportunities.
pursue new opportunities

Successful leaders never allow critiques to stop creative ideas.

Comedy Central’s Walter Levitt says criticism comes with the contract when you become a leader.

While new ideas always carry the risk of failure, they always lead to new knowledge.

So go ahead, embrace the opportunities – and hug your critics.

Leadership Speaker Reveals How Leaders Should Handle Criticism and Opposition

Here is a great article to read on: 7 Things Great Leaders Do To Handle Setbacks and Criticism

Read my latest blog on: What Type of Leader Are You?

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About Maria Barina

Maria Barina is a mother and grandmother who worked for the NYC Board of Education as Laboratory Specialist Bio/GS for 26yrs till the age of 56. Her husband, after 37 of marriage, passed away from Lung Cancer. She came to myEmpirePRO to seek guidance on how to get freedom that an online business can provide. Freedom to her is being able to do what she wants, when she wants to and to show others they can do the same to. Since she done that she is able to do this by working anywhere she goes and became a mobile-prenuer

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