How to take constructive criticism—the right way

Many leaders seek out constructive criticism, but few actually listen to their negative feedback, Allison Vaillancourt writes for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The stakes are high for developing self-aware leaders. Research has shown that high levels of self-awareness lead to better team performance and conflict management, but most people have no clue how others perceive them.

As the value of emotionally intelligent leaders becomes more apparent, organizations are finding new and creative ways to highlight their strengths and challenges.   

There's more to emotional intelligence than being nice

Based on her experience as the University of Arizona's vice president for business affairs and human resources, Vaillancourt offers academic leaders some insight on how to use constructive criticism to their advantage.

Vaillancourt reflects on her recent experience undergoing a 360-degree review, where colleagues asses leaders against a set of competencies and offer specific feedback on how they can be more effective. The reviews are meant to inspire candid conversations and identify opportunities for improvement.

But instead of addressing the negative feedback, some leaders seemed to embrace the behaviors their colleagues had flagged, she notes. Their responses aren't all that surprising, she writes—when people hear negative feedback, they may flaunt their flaws in an effort to ward off further criticism.

Dismissing negative feedback can soothe a hurt ego, but this behavior reflects a refusal to improve and disrespect for the colleagues who shared their concerns, she argues.

Criticism can sting, but truly effective leaders are willing to change their offending behaviors, she writes. Ultimately, your colleagues can help you become a better leader, but only if you listen to them (Vaillancourt, Chronicle of Higher Education, 10/26).

How to drive academic leader development

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