[KINGSTON, Jamaica] – The mettle of leadership is tested by criticism. You cannot lead and avoid being criticized, in fact all leaders must lead with the pain of criticism. According to Greek philosopher Aristotle, “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”
Recently a verbal firestorm was set off in the music industry and it was played out on social media for all to see. The industry leaders pointed their verbal weapons against each other and released an onslaught of fiery darts that have left a few wounded after the encounter.
There was also another incident that followed a prominent businessman expressing his views regarding masks being worn in schools on a national radio station which led to varying views on twitter and other platforms. A firestorm ensued.
Criticisms Are Like Bullets
Destructive criticism are like irretrievable bullets. Once released from a pistol and travelling through the air at full velocity it cannot be recalled or undone. Like the bullet, destructive criticism travels at full velocity these days through social media, traditional media and pierce the very soul of its target leaking their emotions and feelings.
In parliament, leaders throws verbal jabs at each other to gain political mileage, which creates a back and forth like a rally at a tennis match. Media love these kinds of juicy stories; they gain massive attention from their audience and drives their ratings up. On social media it drives up engagement and followers to their page. Some leaders even create unnecessary controversy, they see it as a way to prominence or much needed media coverage, they would say something like this, “Any publicity is a good publicity.” Which is not true in today’s society, bad publicity for a brand and their leader can put nails in their coffin.
If you are going to lead effectively you will have to learn how to deal with criticisms. Leaders who understand how to response to criticism set themselves apart and become effective. Those who don’t know will be swept away from the crushing blows of it.
Leaders will be criticized
All leaders should be expected to be criticized. Leaders are individuals who desire progress and you cannot have progress without change. This mean you are going to challenge people’s status quo with the changes you are going to make to achieve the desired progress you have in mind and this will lead to criticism and backlash. Leadership will create inconvenience for others, leadership will shift power and status for some and leaders will require enormous amounts of money and resources to fulfil their vision which will lead to criticism.
Just like an athlete who is competing for a championship title expects pain, likewise a leader must expect to deal with the challenge of criticisms. A leader should never be surprised that others are criticizing them. How then does a leader deals with criticisms?
Know what to ignore
As a leader some fights you win by not showing up. Don’t try to answer every critics, don’t try to straighten out every dispute. And never go to war where there are no spoils. Choose your battle wisely and know where you should invest your energy. A racehorse should never be distracted by a horsefly, don’t pull out your ammunition for petty battles. Preserve your peace.
Never Counter Attack Your Critics Publicly
The iconic Billy Graham had many critics, they used to dish out there attack via the media. However, Billy Graham never once counter attacked publicly because it is not wise. If you do you will invite a spraying match with a pig who will pull you down into the mud. Instead Billy Graham reached out to some of those critics privately and show them love and guess what happened he won over some of those critics. As true leader learn to treat your critics better than they treat you.
Learn From Your Critics
Every now and then you can learn something from your critics, sometimes its not destructive but from a constructive manner. Learn from those constructive critics, find ways in which you can improve your leadership style or strengthen your weakness. There are times when your critics will help to push you to new heights. Just as how a team needs worthy competitors to pull the best out of them. Never allow your critics to control your narrative. If you are going to response to your critics never reply impulsively, but on your terms with diplomacy, tact and grace.
As zig Ziglar once said, “Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember: the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.” And don’t be distracted by noise as well, some people roar like a lion but sting like a bee.