Critique is necessary for development and growth. We love it when we’re doing great and, let’s be honest, it sucks, stings when we aren’t. I’m convinced that critique is necessary. However, if not done properly it does the opposite of what it ought to achieve.
The challenge for me as a leader is to always better pursuit of our mission with all the teams I lead. This means troubleshooting and addressing everything that could trip us up. The other side of it is that while I lead others I’m accountable to others who lead me as well.
Likewise, it is also their responsibility to give critique in a way that builds me up so that I can grow, get better, and, in turn, grow those I lead; making all stronger. Thus the mission is kept in sight — its integrity protected.
The tension of team critique and mission…
I’m conscious of how I interact with people. After having read Steve Jobs’ biography, it is difficult whether Steve cared about the product / task more than people?
Could it also be that he cared about people as well and saw his brutal, untempered honesty as necessary because he cared deeply about people and Apple’s mission?
Like Jony Ive I sometimes struggle with critique. I want to get better as a leader, so I understand the need for feedback. It’s great when it’s great and terrible when the light is on my shortcomings. I have no doubt those I have to engage with feel the same.
From my little experience as a growing leader, I conclude, as a leader, I must care about both people and the mission. Thus, the mission can’t be so important I trample people. That, in itself, is a violation of my mission, because it is ultimately about making an impact in people’s lives.
Thus how I lead is not just about the mission per se. It is also about protecting the integrity of the mission in my interactions with my team.
While ‘violating’ (for lack of better words) people can compromise mission, I cannot let the mission be violated and undermined by people. This is tension all leaders must wrestle and manage.
As a leader, I have to also protect the mission. After all, that is the reason for the team, right? I maintain: truth is beautiful. It is important but can be ruined by how its delivered.
Like me, every leader and team-player has to muzzle their vanity in dealing with (and perhaps giving) critique.
Sometimes critique is the necessary assassin of our pride (Click to Tweet)
You can detract from what you’re trying to achieve with critique without factoring how it is delivered. Wrestling and managing the tension of people and mission.
A disregard for mission is self-sabotage. A disregard for people is a violation of the integrity of your mission.
Note to self: you the one who critiques, rid yourself of vanity.