Leadership Tensions: Criticism vs Coaching

By our nature as leaders we are wired to see potential.  We are always looking for ways to improve or expand the things that we’re a part of.  Potential and possibility drive us.

But the dark side of that part of our leadership is that it can also make us quite critical.  When our inability to be satisfied engages with our leadership of others we can easily become a constant critical rather than an encouraging coach.

That’s the leadership tension for us to engage this week: Criticism vs Coaching.

There really aren’t a set of rules that I can give you for this one.  It’s an attitude and spirit that we must embody as leaders.

Oftentimes if we discover ourselves being hyper-critical of others, we might swing to the other extreme and not address the issues we ‘re concerned about.  That pendulum swing only further exasperates our leadership.  By not addressing issues that need to be improved, we allow things to stagnate or decline.

Critique needs to occur and you as the leader are designed to give it.  The spirit that you give it in determines if it’s tough criticism or constructive coaching.

Here are some ways to check the spirit of your approach:

  • Don’t critique when you’re angry or in the heat of the moment.  Calmly respond as necessary and circle up later to have a not-so-emotionally charged conversation.  But do have the conversation!  Don’t wait until it happens again and you’re angry again.
  • Consider how your critique can make the receiver a better person, employee or leader.  Deliver the information with a heart to see them grow.
  • Determine if any of your own insecurities, fears or pride are driving your frustration.  Is it really your employee who needs coaching or is it you?
  • Pray about it.  Prepare your heart by asking for God to give you wisdom, grace and love from which to lead through your concern.

How do you manage the tension between criticism and coaching?

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One comment

  • Margaret November 27, 2012  

    we can check our motives–are we trying to encourage the person (coaching) or fix them (criticism)?