The Principled Leader and Criticism


How do you handle criticism? Does it cause you to bristle and get defensive? Or, can you process the spoken or written information in a manner to reach an informed conclusion?


Criticism comes in many forms – constructive, destructive, instructive, misguided, or possibly rich in wisdom. Our life principles, values, and personal security will largely determine how we process what is said to and/or about us.


Everyone has a perspective. That perspective is formed through our environment, those with whom we choose to closely associate, what we choose to read, our goals, our mentors, our life values, and many similar factors.


Is our perspective malleable? Yes, it is just as we choose those with whom we want to closely associate. Can we be so malleable that we and others might not know from moment to moment what we represent? Yes, that is true as well.


It is generally good to be open minded. That means we can process information logically and systemically to reach an informed decision without being confused. The potential problem with having an open mind is that can allow anyone who comes along to put things in it. Even that is not an inherent problem as long as we live by a set of life principles. By being resolved to live by a set of principles, we will discard those thoughts that do not align with those principles or values. Through this type thinking, we become very predictable and stable in our mindset. That stability of mind is frequently what people admire even if we do not agree with each other.


Know what you believe and have a reasoned response for those who want to know why we believe what we believe. With this mindset, we will likely not be included with those who are known for shifting with the current wind direction. However, the stronger our resolve is to live a principled life, the greater the likelihood we will endure criticism.


Let’s acknowledge the obvious that not everyone will agree with us on some or possibly most topics. Again, perspective and values will prevail. As our resolve strengthens to live on a set of principles and the greater our influence is on others, the greater the likelihood is that we will endure criticism. After all, why pick on or say anything about someone who is not doing anything? It has been said that anyone who has not been criticized likely has not made a decision of any consequence.


So, what are some of the principles to which values oriented leaders ascribe? 1) Integrity. This frequently is known as being honest. I think it goes further to mean that a values leader lives his/her life with integrity from the start of the day to the end of the day, a leader of integrity is predictable they will not compromise their life for short term gain. 2) Respect. A values oriented leader knows respect is earned – it is never demanded. Respect comes from consistent behavior of living a life of integrity. 3) Confidence. A values oriented leader is confident because he/she knows what they believe and why they believe what they believe. Their beliefs are founded in a set of time tested truths that have stood the test of time. 5) Trust. A values oriented leader trusts others until/unless the person of their trust proves they are no longer worthy of that trust because of some breach of values. People tend to live up to expectations. Therefore, treat people as a “10” until/unless they prove they are not worthy of that rating.


You can add other principles to this list. Give this some thought and let me know what other principles that guide your life.


Living a principled, disciplined life takes time and requires consistency. Finding others who live by similar values also might take some effort. Developing trust, respect, and confidence with those who do or would like to share these values requires time to nurture relationships. Many people do not want to take the time to develop genuine, meaningful relationships. It just doesn’t fit the “gotta have it now” mentality.


Have you been criticized because of living a principled life? Let me know how you worked through the criticism. Was it easy to let the criticism just roll off? Or, did it sting for a time after which you got over it? Or, possibly, did not learn from the criticism and modify your behavior accordingly? I am very interested in hearing from you.