Living With Criticism

talent-management-photo

No one wants to be criticized. Dr. William Watley, Senior Pastor of the St. Phillip African Methodist Episcopal Church observed, “Criticism’s certainly something that you can’t be delivered from…From the womb to the tomb, you can’t escape it.”

Criticism can be defined as ‘the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.’ No one can avoid criticism if they are active in an organization or serve in a leader’s capacity.

Yet, individuals can also be criticized because of lack of action. Dr. Watley argues that criticism is all that some people know how to do, which indicates to him that ”these people need to get a life.” Perhaps, actress Ava Gardner summed it up best about critics: “Hell, I suppose if you stick around long enough, they have to say something nice about you.” 

On the contrary, a Constructive Critic points out things that will assist in the personal or professional development of a person. A Petty Fault Finder can always locate some short coming in an individual that is not helpful and a fault that he or she does not have a problem with.

In fact, no matter how hard you attempt to correct a problem noted by a Petty Fault Finder, he or she will not be satisfied; a Petty Fault Finder will seek to only locate another problem in this individual’s life.

Great leaders know how to use criticism in a way that can transform an organization. Most people are unwilling to change even when it is out of necessity or survival. Richard Daft, renowned author of Management, notes that change can be problematic for organizational growth.

Employees and managers often resist change. Dr. Daft explains, “Yet most changes will encounter some degree of resistance. Idea champions often discover that other employees are unenthusiastic about their new ideas….People typically resist a change they believe conflicts with their self-interest.”[1] Most managers understand how to control and oversee their organizations.

Few managers have the innate ability to inspire their employees from mediocre to extraordinary performance. That position description requires a leader, not a status quo manager. All great leaders, from President George Washington to Albert Einstein, had their own share of criticism and a merry band of Petty Fault Finders.

Sadly, some individuals never are effective in their positions because they can never seem to manage because of fear of negative criticism. Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, authors of Contemporary Management, explained how bad leadership damages an organization: “When leaders are ineffective, chances are good that their subordinates do not perform to their capabilities, are demotivated, and may be dissatisfied as well.”[2] Consequently, it is important that leaders develop strategies for managing criticism effectively in order to move their organizations to exemplary performance. 

Please discuss criticism from your professional experience.

 © 2014 by Daryl D. Green

 

 

[1]Management by Richard Daft

[2] Contemporary Management by Gareth Jones and Jennifer George

 

Living A Leader’s Life

 

swing-dancersDuring our last Caribbean cruise together, my wife Estraletta and I made it a nightly routine to eat a formal dinner together with new friends, enjoy a nightly session of Latin dancing in a new cultural setting, and end the night in a variety of dancing venues, from contemporary to the classic waltz.

I must admit what captured my attention on the dance floor was watching senior citizens who were African-Americans dance the swing with so much precision and accuracy.   I was amazed to see an elderly man who was riding in a mobile cart, stumble on to the dance floor with some assistance, grab a senior citizen woman and swing her around the dance floor til there was no end.

With his knack of swing dancing, he found himself the bell of the ball. Women were lined up to dance with him until he was exhausted.  When we returned home, we attended another social event where seniors were swinging on the dance floor.

The swing dance was not a dance choice for my generation of break dancers.  In fact, my older sister was a Baby Boomer and her generation appeared to reject swing dancing of that generation.  Therefore, I found myself intrigued and ignorant about the contributions of African-Americans  on swing dancing in American history.

In September, I will be sponsoring a swing dance through the Academy Ballroom in Knoxville in order to celebrate the art of swing and honor the contributions of African Americans in this art form. The event,” Dr. Green Presents ‘Swing at the Savoy’: a dance class series reflecting the music and dance of Harlem in the 1920s.”

 

 

The class will start on September 6th, at 6pm.  Dancing can be life changing. Paul Bottomer, author of Let’s Dance, explains the power of dancing:  “Whatever your musical taste or individual preferences, the huge variety of dance ensure that there is something to suit you. You do not need to be a good dancer to enjoy the dancing, the music, the mood, the atmosphere and, of course, the social life.”[1]

Of course, many folks will not embrace anything different.  This reaction is fine.  However, some individuals make it a habit to criticize others in the process.  Criticism can be noted as ‘the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.’

Critics come in all shape and sizes.  If you are a weak individual, you will find yourself needing to maneuver through the opinions of critics.  Different people have distinctive “locus of control” which refers to how people perceive life events.

Individuals with an external locus of control feel that things are outside of their control and can be easily manipulated by outside events. Individuals with an internal locus of control feel in control of their own fate.

Dr. Richard Draft, author of Management, notes, “People with an internal locus of control are easier to motivate because they believe the rewards are the result of their behavior.”[2]

He further explains that people with an external locus of control are harder to motivate, less involved in their jobs, and more likely to blame others.  Living life based on the opinions of others can lead individuals toward a mediocre existence. Can you afford to live a mediocre life?

Since my wife and I have started ballroom dancing, I have gained a great deal of confidence, creative brain power, and a healthier lifestyle (about 2-3 hours of dancing a week).  Perhaps, it’s interesting that guys who cannot dance are the ones who are most prone to ridicule and mock others who can.

Fortunately, good leaders understand how to inspire followers to exemplary performance even in the face of stiff criticism.  Therefore, doing things like swing dancing sets you apart as a leader guided by his or her own internal locus of control.

Discuss the concept of leading with an internal locus of control.

© 2013 by Daryl D. Green

 

Harlem Swing Class Final


[1]Let’s Dance  by Paul Bottomer

 

[2] Management by Richard Daft

 

 

Living Beyond Criticism

criticism1

I do know how to make my wife laugh…even at my expense. I have been fascinated with ballroom dancing since last year. It was something I reluctantly embraced after being taken kicking and screaming to the dance floor. Several weeks ago I thought it would be nice to practice my dance moves so that I would perform them better. My wife was out of town at the time. I got a notice about a dance with a live band on Saturday. I thought it would be cool.

However, I should have read the fine print. When I got to the event, it was packed full of energy and enthusiasm. What I failed to learn was that the dance was at a senior citizen center. That meant I would be dancing with my mother and grandmother at the event. Secretly, I pledged to myself that I would not ask anyone to dance and gracefully exit from this event. The average age of the attendees was over 80 years old. I was but a puppy at 40 + years old.

However, my exit strategy did not work. I invited myself to sit (of course, I did not know anyone and just dashed to the nearest unoccupied sit) with a well-to-do couple who was visiting in the area. They were well educated, financially secure, and very mobile; they had winter and summer homes. Having a questioning nature, I asked about how they perceived life and what the general attitude of these folks was in general since they were all part of the Greatest Generation. I was pretty shocked at the responses.

They noted that many of them did not care about any past accomplishments, titles, wealth, or status symbols. Most folks were mostly concerned with their health, quality of life, and having enough money to live. Kids and grandkids were rarely mentioned (many had been abandoned by them). With them approaching the end of their golden years, the focus was on current relationships and values. In fact, there was an evolution by many of them in their thinking: “There was no shame in their game.”

Many couples had forgone the taboos of living together (aka ‘shacking up) because these people did not want to lose their Social Security checks or other financial means. In a nutshell, they did not care about what others thought about them. It was something that I could relate to in ballroom dancing.

My male friends give me a hard time about ballroom dancing. However, at the same time, they cannot dance, garnish the attention of others by doing something others could not do, or inject into their character fresh confidence in learning how to do something new and different. Many people do not progress in life for fear of being criticized.

No one wants to be criticized. Dr. William Watley, Senior Pastor of the St. Phillip African Methodist Episcopal Church observed, “Criticism’s certainly something that you can’t be delivered from…From the womb to the tomb, you can’t escape it.” Criticism can be defined as ‘the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.’

No one can avoid criticism if they are active in an organization or serve in a leader’s capacity. Yet, individuals can also be criticized because of lack of action. Dr. Watley argues that criticism is all that some people know how to do, which indicates to him that ”these people need to get a life.” Perhaps, actress Ava Gardner summed it up best about critics: “Hell, I suppose if you stick around long enough, they have to say something nice about you.”

On the contrary, a Constructive Critic points out things that will assist in the personal or professional development of a person. A Petty Fault Finder can always locate some short coming in an individual that is not helpful and a fault that he or she does not have a problem with. In fact, no matter how hard you attempt to correct a problem noted by a Petty Fault Finder, he or she will not be satisfied; a Petty Fault Finder will seek to only locate another problem in this individual’s life.

Great leaders know how to use criticism in a way that can transform an organization. Most people are unwilling to change even when it is out of necessity or survival. Richard Daft, renowned author of Management, notes that change can be problematic for organizational growth.

 

Employees and managers often resist change. Dr. Daft explains, “Yet most changes will encounter some degree of resistance. Idea champions often discover that other employees are unenthusiastic about their new ideas….People typically resist a change they believe conflicts with their self-interest.”[1] Most managers understand how to control and oversee their organizations.

Few managers have the innate ability to inspire their employees from mediocre to extraordinary performance. That position description requires a leader, not a status quo manager. All great leaders, from President George Washington to Albert Einstein, had their own share of criticism and a merry band of Petty Fault Finders.

Sadly, some individuals never are effective in their positions because they can never seem to manage because of fear of negative criticism. Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, authors of Contemporary Management, explained how bad leadership damages an organization: “When leaders are ineffective, chances are good that their subordinates do not perform to their capabilities, are demotivated, and may be dissatisfied as well.”[2] Consequently, it is important that leaders develop strategies for managing criticism effectively in order to move their organizations to exemplary performance.

Please discuss how to cope with negative criticism in a professional work environment.

 © 2013 by Daryl D. Green

 


[1]Management by Richard Daft

[2] Contemporary Management by Gareth Jones and Jennifer George