As a leader you have to get used to dealing with critics for one simple reason:
The world is full of them.
Especially in this internet age, when people have much closer proximity to those in the public eye through 24 hour news and social media, the ability of leaders to shut themselves away from criticism and scrutiny is becoming more and more a matter of mental toughness rather than physical distance.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid critics, which leaves the leader with two options – engage with them or ignore them.
If you simply have to engage with critics, I recommend humour and keeping it light. Allowing yourself to be dragged down to a nasty slugfest with someone determined to make you feel bad about yourself – the number one objective of all critics – is not in your best interests.
Here is a simple strategy for dealing with critics that relies mainly upon ignoring them but also helps when you have to engage with them:
Live above criticism.
Nobody who is successful escapes criticism. It goes with the territory. 98% of it is unjustifed and the 2% that is justified generally comes from wrong motives by the critic anyway.
So you must really learn to live your life above the stormy clouds of abuse and criticism.
Eagles escape storms by flying above them. That is how you can most effectively deal with those who want to pull you down – lock your wings like the eagle and fly above the clouds.
Being impervious to criticism is an essential attribute you must develop if you are going to be an effective leader.
That means you must resist the temptation to explain your decisions to people who oppose them.
If you simply must explain yourself then do it in a time and place of your choosing.
Never let critics dictate your agenda.
Most critics are motivated by envy and fear. They are more to be pitied than anything else. Remember that people who resort to abuse and vilification demean themselves in the eyes of onlookers.
It is essential to learn how to engage with people who attack you verbally or in writing by taking a humourous approach.
In Psalm 2 it says that God Himself responds to those who oppose Him by having them in derision. That is not a licence to be arrogant toward those who attack you but is a great example of how to put their abuse in the right perspective.
Social media does have some great tools for dealing with those who vilify others – the block, unfriend, ignore buttons, for example.
I have learned to use these things much more for one very good reason: Life is too short and precious to spend time and energy trying to explain to abusive people what I am about.
If any of these people are part of my own destiny they will need to find another way of connecting with me in the future because I just block them the minute they begin to show the signs of being a detractor.
Critics and detractors will always try to deflect you from your destiny.
Don’t let them.
Live above criticism as much as you can. And learn to laugh at those whose lives are so empty they must find meaning in attacking those who are doing something they aren’t.