Standing Up to Your Greatest Critic

by  Jennifer V. Miller  |  Leadership Development

“Jeff, when you’re a leader, there’s going to be at least one person at any given time who thinks he was put on this earth to be your greatest critic.”

This nugget of wisdom came from Jeff’s mentor many years ago as Jeff assumed the first of many influential leadership positions of his career. It’s now many years later and Jeff is the CEO for a successful, mid-sized company. He relayed this story to me as we sat in his office discussing the ups and downs of leading a growing enterprise.

“That’s some of the best advice I got early in my career,” Jeff continued. “As a leader you need know what you stand for, because no matter what, somebody’s not going to like your position on an issue.” According to Jeff, it’s this clarity of principle that helps him stand firm when the going gets tough, and allows him to deal with critics.

Ken Blanchard voiced a similar thought recently during a webinar hosted by Charlene Li. Titled Leadership Lessons: The Power of Relationships in the Facebook Era, Ken talked about the concept of leaders needing to be very clear about what they stand for. He calls this “developing one’s leadership point of view” and has written about it extensively over the past several years.

There are innumerable leadership “points of view”; in fact, you’ll see many of them voiced here at the Lead Change blog. While we can certainly identify leadership points of view that are self-serving, this blog chooses to focus instead on vantage points that are selfless—those that seek to better an interaction, a life, a vision.

Regardless of whether or not we hold an official leadership title, we all have a leadership point of view. When your point of view is called into question, are you confident you can stand up to your greatest critic?

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About The Author

Articles By jennifer-miller
Jennifer V. Miller is a leadership development consultant whose writing and digital training materials help business professionals better lead themselves and others towards greater career success.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Mike Henry  |  29 Jun 2011  |  Reply

Great post Jennifer. I appreciate your perspective.

Another way to look at it is, if your point of view doesn’t attract some criticism, you must be doing what everyone else is. Making a difference almost requires some criticism. Expect it; even plan for it. If you’re ideas and pursuits can’t stand some criticism, what are you doing?

Thanks! Mike…

Jennifer V. Miller  |  29 Jun 2011  |  Reply


“Making a difference almost requires some criticism”– what a healthy perspective. Thanks for offering yet another way to look at this issue.

Subha Balagopal  |  08 Jul 2011  |  Reply

Thank you for this post, and a great quote worth remembering. Recently, a mentor shared a quote from a speech by Roosevelt (the excerpt is called ‘The Man in the Arena’), which has freed me to be able to have a balanced perspective about criticism. I wrote about my reflections on facing criticism and shared the quote here: https://subhabb.wordpress.com/2011/06/15/unbound-from-here-on/ and it has taken me to a different level in my leadership role. It is ultimately about the beliefs and principles that drive our work and the learning and growing that happens along the way!

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