Nobody likes to hear that they’re wrong. Criticism, no matter how “constructive,” usually hurts. Even the most tactfully phrased comments made with the best of intentions can still deflate, discourage, or anger the unlucky person on the receiving end.
I think people in leadership particularly dislike criticism. Even leaders who claim to welcome honest feedback still bristle or ache a little when that honesty hints at a mistake or a flaw. As leaders, we want to “get it right” all the time. We want to meet and exceed expectations. And I think even the most humble of leaders still wants to be looked up to and admired.
So when someone points out a flaw in us, in our organization, our team, our strategy, or our leadership, our tendency is to become defensive. Denial and excuses come a lot more readily than admitting our mistakes and embracing our flaws. Ignoring criticism or excusing mistakes feels easier and safer than dealing with the truth. But when faults and shortcomings get swept under the rug instead of being addressed, change and improvement becomes virtually impossible.
Below is a video that tells the story of one organization that chose to address criticism head on, acknowledging their flaws and choosing to make changes for improvement. It wasn’t easy, but the outcome was worth the cost.
How about you? Are you willing to admit your mistakes and address criticism in a positive way? It’s never easy, but it’s always best.