Every leader receives critique. Some leaders appreciate it, some dread it, and some resent it – but every good leader needs it. In order to truly achieve leadership excellence, you need to learn, grow, mature, develop, and improve as a leader, and one of the best tools for accomplishing this is critique.
Without honest critique, you risk doing the same thing the same way without ever realizing you could do better. You miss out on incredible opportunities for improvement and squelch your potential. Critique is absolutely essential for growth!
If you are a leader, you are being critiqued. Some leaders receive blunt face-to-face critique. Other leaders may only hear whispered muttering in the hallways. Whether you hear it or not, critique is out there, lurking in the minds and mouths of those you lead. Why not leverage it? Why not learn from it? Like it or not, those whom you lead are evaluating you, so you might as well take advantage of it!
The first step is learning to accept and appreciate critique. I realize this can be difficult, especially for those who have experienced harsh, unpleasant, or off-base and strongly opinionated critique in the past. But while there will always be naysayers and those with opinions better left unvoiced, there are also those who will offer genuine critique that you can learn from. Remember:
- Critique is inevitable (so leverage it!)
- Critique is necessary (learn and grow from it!)
- Critique is valuable (without it you become stagnant!)
The second step is encouraging those whom you lead to offer critique. While critique undoubtedly exists in the minds and mouths of everyone whom you lead, it isn’t necessarily useful and usable unless expressed and received properly. If no one ever voices their critique of your leadership, or if they only give voice to it during hushed conversations in the break room or while unwinding at the dinner table, it will do no one any good.
You need to create an environment that both welcomes and encourages honest critique. Whether it’s through face-to-face meetings, anonymous surveys, or anything in-between, that’s up to you; but it’s absolutely essential that you make genuine and heartfelt critique an important and natural part of your leadership style.
Trust me, learning to accept and encourage critique will pay enormous dividends toward developing leadership excellence!