This was a blast for me, because ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a fighter pilot. Yes, I know, I have some crazy need for going really fast in dangerous vehicles. So hearing current and retired fighter pilots talk about how to Empower with Flawless Execution absolutely rocked!
The steps that they take is unreal. I thought I prepared well. Bah!!! These guys have a system that causes you to succeed. They have to. If they don’t, people die. And those people are the ones that are protecting our freedom.
Towards the end of their amazing event, Patrick “Lips” Houlahan was discussing how to do a proper debrief meeting. One of the steps covered was about criticism. In leadership, or any position for that matter, you’re going to experience criticism. “Be prepared to take it” he said.
You can’t be so sensitive that if someone gives you quality criticism, you can’t handle it. Now, with that said, let me add that there are a ton of people who have come out of terribly led businesses. Dysfunctional would not be too heavy of a word to use. So their “criticism” tends to be just complaining and blaming.
Therefore, it should be taken with a grain of salt. However, when you have a team that is mature, and responsible, and can be trusted, then you need to have an environment where criticism is not only allowed, but encouraged. Why? Because our goal is to constantly be getting better.
When you have this kind of environment, you can do what Lips suggested next – “If you throw a knife into someone’s chest, please make sure there’s a note attached to it.” As you can imagine, that got quite the laugh. He went on to explain that when you are going to criticize someone, you need to make sure that you have given all the info.
Don’t just tell someone what’s wrong with them, let them know exactly what happened, what they could have done differently, and what the steps are for them to correct the situation in the future. Take a look at Whose Fault Is This to see how I structured my most powerful meeting.
The purpose of the critique has to be improve future execution. Not to step all over someone personally. As you do this, and the team trusts each others integrity, you begin to function at a much higher level of productivity. Or as Afterburner instructors would say, flawless execution.
Question: How have you seen criticism gone bad? How have you seen it done right?