Nobody likes to be criticized. The word “criticism” often has a negative connotation. People don’t like to be criticized, especially at work. On the other hand, constructive criticism is a good thing. It helps employees improve their performance, often positioning them to take on more challenging tasks and roles. Do you know how one of my friends defines criticism? – Constructive criticism is when he criticizes me, but destructive criticism is when I criticize him.
If you are a leader, I am sure you are well acquainted with this word. Especially if you are brought up in a kind and loving environment where criticism is not a way of life, it will take a while to get used to criticism. Anyone determined to do something or say something important has always been criticized by others. Leadership and criticism go hand in hand. We need to remember leadership is not a popularity or friendship contest. It is always about doing things in the organization’s best interest. Leaders always get paid to make difficult decisions. A leader should always focus on the organization’s goals and objectives and the people they serve rather than wasting time trying to satisfy others’ agendas. Many leaders use their authority to run their hidden agenda rather than yielding their influence over adverse circumstances.
As a young leader, I quickly realized that leadership requires mental toughness. If you are not being criticized for your actions, you cannot guide the organization to grow, innovate, and explore endless possibilities correctly. Often young leaders don’t understand that they are not in the friendship business but in the leadership business. It would be best if you were strong and open to whatever criticism people throw your way. My leadership style is always confronting the conflict head-on and moving to the next opportunity. Momentum is a leader’s best friend. Momentum is a problem solver, and lack of momentum is a problem showstopper. If you take every instance of criticism that comes your way to the heart and start revalidating your decisions, you will lose momentum and opportunities.
There will always be a few people in every organization who will try to take you down. They may envy your success and try to slow down your momentum by criticizing your decisions. But if you feel confident that you are on the right track, don’t worry about such criticism. On the other hand, not letting your mind acknowledge and consider criticism and not doing anything about it, even if you feel there is merit at the root of criticism, is not an option for a successful leader. During the early stages of my leadership journey, I used to push back any suggestion that was not in line with my thought process. Though not everyone can say it out loud, I can’t reflect upon contradictory thoughts, and I was not a credible thinker. But let me tell you this, the more you carefully consider others’ perspectives or thoughts different from yours, the more wholesome and credible your conclusions will be.
If you know yourself well, you can easily detect whenever criticism is aimed at you or your position. If it’s something to do with the weakness you have already discovered, you will easily accept the criticism because you know it is legitimate. Don’t be offensive. Search for a grain of truth in the criticism. Make the necessary changes and always take the high road.
One thing I picked up from my boss over the years is not to delay having a tough conversation with any of my team members. A good rule of thumb is to have a tough conversation within 24 hours. Delaying the dialogue will allow people to keep doing the same thing over and over. You are either building trust or creating distrust every time you interact with your people. Unfortunately, it isn’t happening with those with whom you are talking but also with those who are watching. Every interaction of yours with your team will either increase your influence or decrease it. I have seen someone interacting with another person many times in my life, and their conversation caused me to distrust them even though they had never even spoken a word with me.
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