Leaders Who Find Fault
Overly critical people are hard to live with.
Their constant evaluation of everything around them puts others on edge and makes them defensive. As leaders, they take their critical eye one step further. They look for faults in team members like they are looking for buried treasure.
They’re routinely finding something wrong, picking apart what could have been done better, and attributing anything less than perfection to the inferior qualities of other people. This is how highly censorious leaders exert control.
Taking issue with everything they see gives leaders a feeling of power over those around them. By blaming others for what they view as inferior effort, their failure at leadership is explained entirely by the deficient skills and attitudes of others. The critical eye and dismissive attitude they maintain are actually deflections. They don’t hold themselves accountable for any sub-par performance, even though they led the team.
Good leaders are critical, but only to a point of strategy.
They look for a pathway forward and always include themselves as part of the problem. They analyze more than they criticize. When they use their experience to identify the root cause of a problem, they quickly seek an answer to correct it. They don’t lay blame or find pleasure in condemning others. They avoid becoming tyrants of criticism by spending more time on solving problems and less time blaming others for them.
While it is true that some highly critical leaders are their own harshest critics and hold themselves to the same standards they apply to others, they miss the fact that leadership requires them to move toward solutions and remedies and not just criticism.
By focusing on the shortcomings of others, highly judgmental leaders give themselves permission to point fingers and lay blame without generating a strategy to take performance higher. Complaints about others and their performance do nothing to improve the situation. In fact, they make matters worse, as team members prepare for, and protect themselves from, the ongoing assaults.
Working with highly critical leaders is an unpleasant experience. Leaders who polish the skill of criticism by always looking for faults do little to improve performance or enhance the skills of others. Too bad they don’t understand how much their constant criticisms actually detract from what they are seeking.
Highly critical leaders reap what they sow: team members who spend more time staying out of target range than performing to the best of their abilities.