There isn’t a one time, cure-all, for CEO Disease. You can’t just ward it off once and think you’ll never be susceptible to it ever again.
One thing that can and will weaken your leadership immune system, is if you take criticism too personally.
Just like building up and maintaining your physical immune system, as a leader you have to build up and maintain your leadership immune system.
I know you don’t like criticism and you’re not alone, neither do I. It’s hard to hear the hard things.
And I have to admit, this is a particularly hard one for me. Though I enjoy creating the space for those I lead to give me feedback, even still my leadership immune system gets compromised by a creeping tendency to take criticism too personally.
Regularly, I ask people in my life this series of simple questions: ‘As a leader . . . What should I do more of? Less of? Add?’
Funny enough, sometimes, their response is, ‘Dan, I know you try to be good at receiving feedback, but you just take it too personally.’
And dang that can hurt.
However, there are 3 leadership lessons here we can learn and practice together.
Here are three things to remember about criticism:
1. Not all feedback is criticism - Feedback and criticism are not synonyms and as a leader you (and me too) need to differentiate between the two.
2. Don't internalize it - If you internalize feedback meant for good and instead receive it as criticism meant to attack you and respond poorly as a result, you signal to others that they can’t really be honest with you in the future. That is certainly not the environment you want to create as a leader.
3. It might be malicious, so what? - Even if the feedback is actually malicious—if it is actually criticism—if you ever hope to get honest feedback from others moving forward, always respond, to whatever messenger and whatever message with grace and equanimity. Because people are always watching—they’re watching yourbehavior and watching your actions and reactions as a leader.
Regularly ask for the feedback and here's a tool to help you do so. Get a free copy of my leadership ebook, Is CEO Disease Crippling Your Company? How to Diagnose and Treat It Before It's Too Late.
With feedback, you’re giving yourself a chanceto change. You might be doing things all wrong and that's okay, if you give yourself the opportunity to change. You might be doing things all right, but how will you know if you don’t ask?
Don’t conflate feedback with criticism.
If you take it too personally, you’ll weaken your leadership immune system and you could contract a full-fledged case of CEO Disease.
P.S. Don't forget your leadership immune booster—a free copy of my leadership eBook: Is CEO Disease Crippling Your Company? How to Diagnose and Treat It Before It’s Too Late.