There are many things that hold us back on our path toward personal and professional growth. Whether you’re newly managing people at your company or eager to start your own business, there will be aspects of your personality that get in the way of your success and leadership development.
One of the greatest fears of leaders is criticism. Ironically enough, the ability to accept criticism gracefully is an essential leadership attribute. Beyond that, you must know that the further along you go in achieving your life goals, the more likely you are to face tough criticism from your team, your family, your friends and your superiors. John Maxwell wrote very poignantly about the role of criticism in leadership, underscoring its inevitability. As Maxwell explains, the price of leadership is criticism, because no one pays attention to the people who don’t make it to the top.
If you’re going to succeed, you simply cannot avoid criticism. As a leader you are vulnerable to criticism from the media, experts in your field, competitors and the people you work with every day. As a result, the only real way to cope with criticism is to embrace it with enthusiasm.
Rather than being defensive, embrace criticism with enthusiasm.
No business can run successfully without criticism. The same applies to your own growth as a leader and as a human being in general. If you’re not sure how crucial criticism is to your success, consider the following reasons to be more open to it:
Accepting criticism simply isn’t optional. If you want to be successful, you have to be open to feedback and embrace criticism as an opportunity, not a failure.
Ultimately, the ability to accept criticism and respond to constructive feedback is rooted in a deep sense of humility. And humility is an admirable, necessary quality of any great leader. TechCrunch cited research from the January 2014 issues of Administrative Science Quarterly, which found that managers who exuded humility by accepting feedback and anticipating the needs of others fostered better employee engagement and improved job performance.
Leaders who are willing to accept criticism are better at leading altogether. The most important thing is to strike a healthy balance between being firm in your decisions and confident in your leadership style, while simultaneously remaining humble in how you listen to people’s opinions of you. The more you receive criticism, the more opportunities you have to show your excellent leadership skills by embracing the feedback and accepting it with humility. In effect, criticism and the way you handle it is a source of your ultimate success.
“Ultimately, the ability to accept criticism and respond to constructive feedback is rooted in a deep sense of humility.”
Despite its importance, it is quite natural to fear the inevitable criticism you will face as you advance in your career. The important thing is to find ways to cope and overcome this fear, anticipating that criticism is just a single decision or mistake away. The following strategies will help you overcome your fear of and cope with criticism as a leader:
Criticism doesn’t stand in the way of your growth, but your fear of it certainly does. Criticism is a healthy part of personal development, and embracing it is a key to your success.