Leadership & Anonymous Criticism

I’ve written before about leadership and criticism and the reality of how the two go together.

I saw this again this past week in the NFL on the New York Jets. Whatever your opinion about Tim Tebow as a quarterback, there were a number of Jets players who said, “He’s terrible, he isn’t any good.” But it was largely done anonymously. In fact, only one player would go on the record.

Leaders get all kinds of criticism, but anonymous criticism is incredibly common, especially in churches.

It could be in notes sent. It could be in a conversation that goes like this:

Person: Hey Josh, I was talking with some friends.

Me: Oh, about what?

Person: Well, they just aren’t happy. They don’t like ____________.

Me: Well, I’d love to talk with them and find out how to fix the situation or talk about how we can move forward or why we do what we do. Can you give me their names.

Person: Oh, I can’t do that. I told them I wouldn’t tell you their names. I don’t want to break their trust.

Every pastor right now is thinking, “I’ve had that conversation 100 times.”

What do you do?

My response typically is:

I appreciate your feedback (normally when someone says, “Me and some friends are concerned or angry” they typically mean, “I’m concerned or angry”), but unless I know who they are or I’m able to talk with them, there’s nothing I can do about it.

Then, as a leader, you let it go. Move on.

Question: How do you handle anonymous criticism?

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