"Your personal quest for excellence can be another way of saying my character is showing."
- Earl Nightingale

The weather is always quietest before the storm!

So goes the adage of time and so too is the relevance of recognizing that when you as a leader dare to venture off the beaten path of acceptance with a decision that smacks against conventional thoughts, the calm immediately after the making of an independent thought may in fact be the precursor to a storm of criticism!

At this point you can realize that you can engage the storm-makers in one of three ways:

1. You can attempt to ignore, as most managers would choose! This only manifests into a larger problem when the subtleties of the storm grow into a hurricane of criticism publicly and otherwise still individuals become vocal resisters to your initiatives.

2. You can challenge and get pulled into the debate of defending ones' position, as an inexperienced individual would get pulled into! This is almost sure to cause your emotions to erupt in the presence of the other party's seemingly calm logic and reduce you to a dark cloud in everyone else's estimation.

3. You can engage, which is how a leader would facilitate the scenario! There are a host of constructive engagement strategies and tactics that a leader can deploy at this point.

The critical element at the onset of a storm is to position yourself to work with the approaching energy force and utilize it to your advantage.

One way to do exactly this is to "Demand An Alternative!" At the precise moment someone criticizes your thoughts, decisions and actions, calmly look at them and politely ask, "If this idea is not the most effective way to approach this matter, what would you feel to be a more effective way to address it?"

If they can not put forth a constructive response (and many times your retort will catch them off guard and they will most likely respond by saying something like, "because" and that response is to be completely accepted by, not scored or responded to. That response in effect is a non-response and you will repeat the above question loud enough for them to hear and others within ear distance, just as if you were a broken record. What the other party will realize is that you are not going to "ignore them" nor "challenge them" and what you are going to do, is to professionally "engage them".

Your engaging question communicates without saying, "put up or shut up." If the other party does offer a solid response that you may not fully understand, don't attempt to assume its meaning, simply turn to them and again politely ask, "please elaborate on that comment, please?"

Remember, as the leader you are always in pursuit of the most viable solutions (as measured against three variables - ethics, legality, cost), thoughts and action-plans regardless of who the owner of them is. To engage when others would rather engage in storming behavior is an expectation of a leader and especially in the storm of criticism.

Another strategic engagement to consider when you know a thought that you are going to bring into action may cause a storm is to flow smoothly and effectively to the next issue that may appeal to the largest number of stakeholders, thereby deflecting some of the attention away from an otherwise stormy situation. This "Continual Forward Momentum" signals to others that you have moved beyond the otherwise stormy situation.

Weathering the storm of criticism is about ones' mindset and how you see others and your situation attitude. With the right centered, focused and constructive attitude the deployment of leader driven behaviors to weather any storm of criticism is possible!

"Hereos are those who have changed history for the better. They are not always the men or women of highest potential, but those who have exploited their potential in society's behalf. Their deeds are not done for the honor, but for the duty. Through our study of heroes, we enter the realities of greatness."
- Fred Smith, Founder, FedEx

Jeff Magee, Ph.D., PDM, CSP, CMC is a highly sought content rich platform speaker, author and consultant who works with individuals and business that wish to greatly increase their productivity and profitability through business and leadership training without limits. He can be reached toll free at 1-877-90-MAGEE or

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