Punishing the messenger: The misguided need to attack the innocent who are usually only trying to help us.
Leaders attract both followers and critics-if you have neither you aren't a leader. In the face of opposition or criticism leaders have a tendency to circle the wagons to defend and then break out the winchesters to blow away the critics. Sometimes this is necessary.
On occasion it may seem like the enemies have infiltrated the camp, especially when someone you would number among your followers begins to share what you perceive to be criticism. If you haven't developed leadership muscle you may default to circling the wagons and breaking out the guns and taking pot shots within the circle. Do this too often and you won't have many followers left and those who remain will only sing your praises.
Most likely, those who default to this behavior never give opportunity to those who loyally follow them to share constructive comments. There is a difference between a gripe session and a discussion designed to improve the functioning of the team, business or organization. I'm advocating creating opportunities within your team for the latter. Here's how
1. Realize as a leader that you aren't "all that" and you have significant blind spots-you need to know what others are saying, feeling, thinking. Even Jesus asked; "Who do others say that I am?"
2. Regularly ask your team: "What are you feeling uneasy about?"
3. If you are only receiving "positive feedback" and never hear anything constructive or challenging from your team-you need to blow up the team, mix it up and ask those who aren't saying anything at all what they're really thinking.
4. Be bold and ask the team: What do you wish I would do more/less of in my leadership role?
5. Get feedback on how you have responded (verbally/non-verbally) in the past to challenges or criticism from your team. Your reactions may be the reason you're not getting real feedback.
6. Monitor your emotions/thoughts in real time discussion when the conversations get challenging-is this about you, your ego, your ability or is it about doing what's best for the team, business, organization?
7. You don't have to accept everything as fact and truth-weigh it, examine it and thank those brave enough to share comments that don't sound like press releases from your PR department.
Adapted from: What Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith.