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“You can’t please everyone” is a truism that is particularly important to leaders and leading others in an organization practically by definition means having to make decisions where there is no obvious easy choice. Realistically, no choice will make everyone happy.


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Part of the responsibilities that comes with the benefits of being “the leader” is making those tough calls and being able to withstand the fallout. Some people will simmer quietly, expressing their upset and discontent behind closed doors and out of your earshot.

However, public criticism is an open forum in which negative feedback is offered to someone in a place where everyone else can hear and it is a natural part of leadership.

Criticism is inevitable whenever you are in a position of leadership. The best way to avoid criticism is to DO nothing or BE nothing.

However, if you are going to do anything significant or worthwhile you can expect criticism. If you are not being criticized, you are not leading and guiding the organization to grow, innovate and explore endless possibilities. You need to be strong and objective to whatever criticism people throw your way as a leader.

Facing criticism or discontent can be challenging and here are a few ways to handle public criticism as a leader:

Don’t Play The Victim

People find it difficult to respect a leader who becomes the victim. The victimization mentality is not a leadership trait, but rather represents an individual that lacks the mental fortitude and composure to be in a leadership role.


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When leaders play to the victim narrative, it exposes their lack of maturity, and doubt rapidly begins to enter the minds of those they lead about their ability to endure the pressure, intensity, and uncertainty.

Rather than play the victim, own the criticism and convert it into new opportunities previously unseen. Be a change agent and turn the negativity into a platform to enable growth, innovation, and endless possibilities.

Don’t React Impulsively

When faced with criticism, step back and assess the situation. Be patient, don’t react impulsively. Too many leaders get defensive, focus more on their reputation and overreact, rather than evaluate the situation at hand.

Adversity makes or breaks you, but it primarily reveals you. Leaders must practice patience when faced with criticism and show a high level of composure and executive presence. Criticism comes and goes and how well you lead is what earns you respect from your peers.

Just Apologize.

Sometimes criticism is real and justified. I’m not sure why it is so damned hard for people to offer a simple, no-strings-attached apology. But sometimes it is the single best way to acknowledge the voice of the critic and ensure that the criticism does not escalate.

Don’t Take It Personal

Whenever you’re criticized, don’t take it personally. Sometimes we can be too hard on ourselves. We think just because we’re criticized about something that we are failures but that’s not the case.


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Don’t look at your critics as personally attacking you even if they are and you must be mindful not to get overly attached to the business and the issues at hand. When you take criticism too personally, it becomes more difficult to be objective towards meeting the needs of the business and the people you lead.

If you take it personally, the criticism can negatively affect your spirit. If you lead to win, advance others and the organization you serve – you should expect criticism and know how to handle it.

Conclusively, as a leader, you must know who you are and what you are called to do. You can’t allow your critics to define you, stop you, tear you down and get you off track. You must lead with authority, boldness, and confidence.

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This article was first published on 4th July 2022

grace-christos

Grace Christos Is a content creator with a proven track record of success in content marketing, online reputation management, sales strategy, and so much more.


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