Leadership by Criticism Never Works


I recently read the testimony of a CEO who stated that early on in his role he believed the CEO had to be the smartest person in the room. He now acknowledges that was a mistake. If you have to be the smartest person in the room, you are not leading well. In fact, it is possible if you are leading with this mindset the only thing you may be leading is toward a train wreck.

The need to be the smartest person in the room is not leadership. It is an ego issue. An effective leader understands he/she is not always the smartest person in the room. An effective leader will surround himself with capable, open-minded, free-thinking individuals who will contribute to the solution and the decisions to be made.

A leader who feels the need to be the smartest person in the room alienates team members and co-workers. This mindset often leads to leadership by criticism. The need to be the smartest person in the room causes the leader to doubt the capability of team members and workers. Therefore, criticism becomes a leadership style. Leadership by criticism has never built any work bridges between a leader and his/her workers. Criticism belittles and therefore stops the flow of creativity and production. That’s right, production will slow even in the best of workers.

Criticism in leadership is nothing more than a lazy attempt at leadership and ineffective. Ineffective leadership always leads to lower productivity than the team is capable of and lowers morale. Lower morale will, in turn, reduce productivity even more.

As a leader, become a life-long learner. Read, attend conferences, ask and watch others. Learn from peers in similar organizations, and from those you lead. When you open yourself to learning from those you lead, you will be on the road to becoming the best leader possible for your organization and those people you lead.

One way to learn from those you lead is to encourage them to be life-long learners as well. Help them by giving them opportunities and effecting learning (self-improvement) as a priority in each of their lives.

George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.

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