Monday, August 26, 2013


No one likes being critiqued. At least no one I know.

And yet criticism, when productive, can be such a gift for our own self-development. I think it's really important for leaders in particular to be able to receive criticism in order to remain accountable to the larger community.

Still, it's not easy.

In high school my grandfather gave me a key chain of "tough skin." I was a drum major and he said tough skin was essential for leadership. As a leader himself he knew that receiving criticism, even harsh words, is part of the role. Over the years I've had to discern between criticism that is productive and needed for my own growth and criticism that has more to do with the person giving it than with me. The key chain is a good reminder to receive the criticism, but not let it inside. It's helped me pause before taking it all in and consider what is true and what is not.

I also remember a mentor instructing me that when I give criticism I need to tread lightly and treat people fragilely. He is wise. He told me that I don't know what people's lives are like outside of my time with them and so it's always good to fall on the side of grace. I like to think of it as a posture of humility. Remembering that as a leader it is our role to serve others. To guide them, sure, but to account for the wholeness of their humanity and to respect them.

1 comment:

  1. Alligator hide and tender skin is a sermon title from a dear pastor, now deceased; your post reminds me of this, too.
    One of my feedback guides is to be SMART - specific, meaningful, action-oriented (or actionable), respectful and timely. When I remember - it helps!