Have you had the experience of working under a leader who took every criticism personally? Not only did he take things personally, but he did not forget those who offended him. He knew how to hold a grudge. Whenever he talked about those who offended him, he never had a kind thing to say about them. Somewhere in his heart he felt good and justified when that person failed, fell short or made a mistake.
I wish I could say that kind of leadership only happens in the secular organizations. The truth is, it is all too common in the church and Christian organizations as well. In some cases the secular organizations are far more transparent and forgiving.
The question is, are you such a leader? Do you see characteristics of one who is easily offended? If so, let me offer some suggestions that will help you to not be a leader who is easily offended.
Gain appropriate self-confidence. It is imperative that you are comfortable with who you are. You should know your strengths as well as challenges; you need to have come to terms with your disappointments.
Individuals who lack self-confidence are more easily offended. If you do not accept the fact that you have blind spots, when others see in you what you do not see in yourself, then you are more likely to be offended.
Self-confidence generally comes as you accept yourself for who you are and become comfortable with your strengths, challenges and blind spots.
Recognize that as a leader you will draw criticism. The fact that you will draw criticism should be Leadership 101. Along with power, authority and responsibility, criticism comes with leadership. The easily-offended leader is usually eager to accept the power, authority and perhaps responsibility that comes with leadership, but not the criticism.
As Michael Hyatt so aptly said, “As a leader, you are going to draw fire. People will criticize you. Some will second-guess your decisions. Others will impute motives that aren’t there. A few will falsely accuse you. If you are going to be effective as a leader, you can’t afford to be easily offended.”
Don’t jump to conclusions. When someone criticizes you, don’t guess what you think they meant or are thinking. Take the time to inquire of the person directly if possible. Many leaders get offended because they chose to guess what the person’s motive was rather than seeking to find out.
A little reality check will go a long way in keeping from getting offended, if you also keep in mind that we all are sinners saved by grace and are continually in need of grace. Let us show grace before judgment. Give your accuser the benefit of the doubt.
I find it much easier emotionally, spiritually and psychologically when I offer grace instead of judgment to those who criticize me. Michael Hyatt captured the idea of grace instead judgment when he said, “The greatest leaders I know are not easily offended. Instead, they practice the habit of overlooking offenses. They take the high road, give the offender the benefit of the doubt, and move on.”
Look for the learning opportunity. Rather than take the criticism personally and be offended, why not look for what you can learn from it? Ask questions of the person(s) with a sincere desire to understand their point of view. You might be surprised by what you may learn.
It takes self-confidence for leaders to look for learning opportunities in the criticisms leveled against them. Suppose you are criticized by one of your colleagues for your bluntness when speaking to others. Rather than getting offended, ask her to explain what she means. You may discover that what you thought of as being honest and straightforward was being heard as harsh, uncaring speech. In conversation, you discover one of your blind spots, and now you are more aware of how you come across when you speak.
What can you do to be a leader who is less likely to be offended when criticized?
If you would like help in achieving your goals in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.