5 reasons why great leaders value criticism

Inviting, accepting and constructively handling criticism is crucial if you want to be a successful leader. By Satyaki Sarkar

Constructive feedback and criticism is vital for success as it shows you areas of improvement, stops you from becoming complacent and pushes you towards becoming the best possible version of yourself. But that importance is often lost on many, with some leaders growing resentful of criticism, either dismissing it or holding a grudge against the person giving the feedback, letting emotions cloud their judgement. But by doing so you’re only reducing your chances of success. Here are five reasons why great leaders accept criticism wholeheartedly.

1. It is a source of information
Criticism is one of the most invaluable sources of information regarding the important things you need to focus on. It gives you an insight into what matters most to your employees, the aspects you need to improve on, and how to do so. Being a leader in a huge organisation means that a lot of times several important but smaller issues tend to fall through the gaps. Keeping an open mind and learning to accept criticism helps you learn more about the problems, struggles, and concerns of your team, while also giving you a way of understanding how your peers and subordinates feel about you as a leader, as well as how to get better.

2. It keeps you on your toes
Without criticism, you’re likely to end up feeling that you are doing everything right, and have become the best that you could be. It does not let you see the reality for what it is, and you have no reason to try and improve yourself or push yourself further. This, in turn, makes you complacent, and in the long run ends up hurting you as well. Without the need to exert yourself or push yourself further, you will not be able to achieve your full potential and grow, but instead remain stuck in the same stage. Inviting criticism is a great way to get rid of complacency and work on yourself, and as a result, helps you stay ahead of the game.

3. It isn’t personal
One of the biggest mistakes that many leaders make is that they take criticism personally; either the person giving it has an ulterior agenda, has something against them, or does not perceive all the hard work they’ve put in. What you need to understand is that constructive criticism is always subjective, and is merely a means of finding out your shortcomings and what you can do to overcome them. Sometimes it isn’t even about shortcomings but rather how to do and handle a situation/project/meeting in a more efficient and productive manner. Wouldn’t you want to know how to do things better? We should all be open to learning, however the information is brought to us.

4. It encourages humility
We all love to hear our own praises and compliments, but when it becomes a regular thing it can easily go to our heads, and we can quickly become arrogant and conceited. A lack of criticism makes us feel that we are perfect and better than others. This further creates issues with peers, subordinates, and management, because you’re too overconfident to accept your shortcomings. Instead, if you learn to take criticism with an open mind, you will have your feet on the ground and always strive to do and be better.

5. It gives you strategic, actionable points
When you receive criticism, it is not just a single dimensional disapproval of you or your actions, but rather actual, strategic, actionable points that you can work on to create a path to success for yourself. As a leader you should not only invite criticism but also turn them into actionable points that you use to better prepare yourself and further solidify your foundation. This will garner even more respect and confidence from your employees and peers.

Photograph: Pressfoto/ 

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