Seeing Criticism as Compliment
The highest compliment leaders can offer to those they lead is to make the effort to help them succeed. This requires feedback — sometimes hard feedback. We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t care about the progress others could make. To care enough to lead and offer feedback is no small gesture. It is what leadership is all about.
Too many leaders don’t make this clear to those they lead. Sometimes, people are sensitive to the feedback they receive because they don’t appreciate the reasons it is being offered in the first place — to help them succeed.
While good intentions do not absolve leaders from harsh or demeaning feedback, it is essential for those who you lead to understand your heart. Be explicit at a moment when no feedback is forthcoming. Tell others that your criticism is the highest compliment you can offer. Talk about it. Explore whether they understand why your passion for their improvement requires you to, at times, be critical.
The easier path for any leader is to ignore the impediments to improvement and offer general praise, or to direct their attention elsewhere. Only leaders who care offer criticism and feedback. Give others the highest compliment they can receive — be critical to help them improve. Just be sure to tell them loudly that this compliment reflects your deep caring for them. When others begin to see your criticism as a compliment, they will treasure every word.