What 2017 Taught Me About Leadership and Critics

I used to have a thick skin, and if you didn’t like me, that was your problem. Over the course of 2017 as my heart grew tender, that armor plating turned to kevlar. Hit it enough and you’ll get through. And it did.

I learned I cannot and won’t make everyone happy. What I can do is always do what’s right, right will always win. Jaime told me because I am a leader I will always have a target on me. The critics will shoot at me and never stop, just be careful not to hand them the ammunition.

I need Captain America’s shield.

Proactively, continually let them know that they can come to you if they have a problem. However, that door swings both ways. Face to face, without any gossip or complaining to others. I’ve watched it turn environments and cultures toxic.

Face to face, or keep quiet. When they come to you, apologize if they think you’re wrong, and ask how to fix it. I seriously hate being wrong and will check to see if I made a mistake. That’s my personality.

At times decisions will be made that people won’t like, but it is the right choice. Don’t falter, stand up under the adversity of their onslaught.

As a leader, the goals are to balance moving forward with caring for the people and making them better. It won’t always be understood and sometimes outright rejected. I do take some solace in knowing that Jesus went around healing, loving people, and doing good, yet still had his critics.

Your shield is to make sure to do everything right because everyone is watching. It’s the power of reputation at play. When you mess up, don’t do it again, ask forgiveness, and do the next right thing.

Humility Goes A Long Way When Issues Need To Be Discussed

One thing about being in leadership positions is it puts a bullseye on you. Leaders get a lot of criticism, just look at any political opinion post for proof. Politics, home, church, or work, the leaders get more criticism than encouragement.

It’s understandable that we become guarded when people approach with an opinion. It doesn’t mean it’s a wrong opinion, but it can be taken that way depending on how we’re approached.

Four Problems

There are four types of problems at play here. All related to status, territory, or protocols, according to Rory Miller in ConCom: Conflict Communication A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication.

  • Status Checking: Who is this person, where do they fit, and what is their intent.
  • Dominance: The levels fluctuate depending on the type of group. Anything that threatens the status of the leader can trigger irrational emotions and impulses. Seeing it as a challenge to their authority, they may assert it by ignoring the opinion or help.
  • We Don’t Do That Here: Every group has rules and protocols, usually unofficial but still enforced.
  • You Don’t Belong Here: Some groups have subgroups with strong tribal identities. The key is gracefully crossing that line.

Understand this, if it feels like a personal attack, it’ll be seen as one. Whatever legitimate issue you have is blown out of the water until that’s resolved.

The approach should be humble, acknowledging your place. Don’t come in as an authority figure, instead be reluctant, without a self-serving agenda.

It helps to have a proven track record with that person. If you have ideas and plans, and are willing to make it happen, that will help. You have to model the change you want to see.