Criticism: More Intense At the Top

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With leadership comes big responsibilities, so when you accept the role of executive, your choices are automatically subjected to various opinions and sometimes, even tough scrutiny. Much of what you say and do is noticed and critiqued. Quite naturally, the decisions you make will directly impact the business and overall culture of the company, so as your status elevates, so does the level of criticism. It certainly intensifies at the top.

Let’s be honest, none of us particularly enjoy receiving less than ideal criticism. It can bring your confidence down to an all-time low, ultimately compromising your leadership success. However, good, bad, or indifferent, it is still a form of feedback, which gives you insight into perceptions that may be negatively impacting your ability to lead effectively.  

As a leader, you must acknowledge and address both positive and negative criticism, no matter how tough it is to receive. By doing so, you are saying that you are not perfect and that, even at your level, you are willing to work hard to improve in these areas. Additionally, by using criticism constructively, you position yourself as someone who learns from mistakes.

For the good of the company, respectable leaders will set aside their pride, ego, and any disagreements in order to refute a negative perception. The best leaders will see value in others’ opinions, instead of viewing it as a threat.

While it is necessary to address the criticism, it should not compromise your decisions as a leader, nor stifle your desire for a laudable objective, no matter the challenges. As an alternative, great leaders may even engage their critics actively in the change process, inspiring them to come up with ideas and substitute resolutions. This doesn’t ineludibly change the executive’s decision, as much as it allows for the critics to add some sort of value to the outcome.

Furthermore, maintaining a positive perspective will help you receive and use negative feedback productively. When you think of criticism as helpful feedback, it improves performance both on a personal level and for the company as a whole, thus proving to be beneficial.

Lastly, great leaders view setbacks as learning opportunities, so take time to reflect on the criticism before reacting. Instead of getting defensive over what you do not agree with, try to understand the mistake or the critics’ point of view. If the criticism is valid, you must then as an executive be willing to adjust your decisions and actions accordingly. Remember, feedback is a gift.