How Bosses Should Handle Criticism

When I talk to new managers, I tell them that they don’t earn their stripes until one of their direct reports criticizes them for what they perceive as a bad decision.

The price of leadership is critical because those at the top must make decisions that aren’t always popular. Those decisions might relate to budget cuts, layoffs, or putting an end to a popular project.

In his book “Leadership Gold”, author John Maxwell shares four ways successful leaders deal with criticism.

Photo by Craig Adderley on

The first is to know yourself.  You have to feel comfortable in your skin. It may take some time before you realize that you are making decisions that are in the organization’s best interest, not a person’s or workers.

The second is to understand why you were criticized, by whom, and what their motivations were. Change yourself by growing from the comments you hear.

Third, accept yourself for who you are. You build confidence from knowing who you are and are prepared to live by a robust value code.

And finally, Maxwell writes while you are growing up, you worry about what the world thinks of you. By the time you are 60, you realize the world wasn’t paying attention to you.  So, don’t worry about your image. Do the right thing, and you will be perceived as a leader.

The bottom line is that as we grow up, we have our insecurities to deal with, but as we get older and experience more, we have the ability to deal with criticism more constructively.

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