Nov 20, 2020

The Benefits of Criticism

Criticism.  No one enjoys it.  But it's part of life.  Especially if you are a leader.  If you try to accomplish anything, you will have someone criticize you.

There's two ways you can look at criticism.  As a blessing of leading or as a burden of leading. 

The question is not "will you be criticized?"  But rather, how will you look at criticism and how will you respond to it.

This will determine if the criticism ends up being a blessing for you or a burden for you.

It's all about how you receive it. 

For many people, their first reaction is anger.  Is that you?  I have to raise my hand and say "yes" that has been me at times. 

When you begin to see criticism as a blessing, it will change your entire attitude about it. Here's how to see criticism as a blessing. 

  • Keep an open mind.  Most often we immediately begin to resist the complainer. 
  • No matter how far off the criticism is (and that's often), see it as a gift that can make you a better leader. Somewhere in the midst of the criticism, there is a nugget of truth that you can learn from and grow from.
  • Stay humble.  Don't let your pride take over.  You haven't arrived yet.
  • Invite dialogue.  Be proactive and before you make a major change or adjustment, take time to talk to key leaders (and critics) and ask their opinion about the initiative you are getting ready to present. By doing this you will begin to see opposition as a regular and important part of the decision-making process.  
  • Here's an example of questions you can ask.
    • How do you feel about the change?
    • What do you think about the change?  What's your take on it? 
    • What does the change mean for you personally?
    • What was your first reaction when you heard about the change?
  • Ask those who are normally "yes" people to think of and share an opposing view.  If you are a secure leader, you will be open to exploring all sides and views of an idea or initiative.
  • Think through every possible question and prepare an answer.
Remember this when you get criticized.  People simply want the opportunity to be heard.  Show that you care about their concerns.  See things from their point of view.  Instead of trying to pull them into your shoes, step into theirs.  See where they are coming from.  Show that you understand their feelings about the change.
 
Ask yourself these questions:
 
Do I understand who the people are that are criticizing me? 

Do I understand why they are criticizing me?

Am I offering options and alternatives that will help them move forward?

Often people that criticize your leadership, simply want to know you care about them and their complaints. When you invite open dialogue, you help break down the criticism.  

You can get many more tips on leading well in my new book "Lead Well in Children's Ministry."  It covers 10 key areas of leading well in children's ministry.  You can save yourself from making a lot of key mistakes by reading this book. I cover these areas of leadership in the book:

  1. Lead yourself well.
  2. Lead team members well.
  3. Lead the ministry well.
  4. Lead parents well.
  5. Lead change well.
  6. Lead through challenges well.
  7. Lead up well.
  8. Lead multi-site well.
  9. Lead the next generation well. 
  10. Lead well for the future. 
The book is available now in ebook and paperback formats. You can order it at this link. 
 
How do you see criticism?  As a burden or a blessing. Perhaps your answer is you see it as both.  That could be true as well.  How do you deal with criticism?  How do you respond to it?  Share your thoughts  with us in the comment section below.

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