Today is a tough one but a good one, because if you can master this step then there will be nothing holding you back from becoming a great sports leader you know you can be!

What I am talking about is the ability to overcome criticism. As sports leaders we are the ones in the spotlight, we are the ones that cop the flack when something goes wrong, and we are the ones that need to hold it all together and pick up the pieces when all else fails.

I want to give you 5 strategies that will help you conquer that criticism and move on, stronger, better and wiser for having experienced it…


1. Stop deceiving yourself and listen openly. When somebody criticizes you on your on or off field leadership, it is all too easy to respond by trying to justify your actions and actively try defend yourself. If you concentrate on the feeling of being misunderstood or misjudged, you will place yourself right into the position of defensiveness instead of listening openly. This reaction is defensive rather than expansive and attentive. To be a great leader you must first understand that there is no failure only feedback, it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Next you need to:

2. Separate praise and blame from failure and success.

What this means is that even though someone may give you feedback that you perceive to be good or bad, or praise or blame, this is not an indication of the failure or success of your efforts. Praise for work well done and recognition for achievements are accolades that we all seek as reference points that we are on the right track, however it is important that you understand criticism will not undermine your overall success. The way to do this is learn to take 100% responsibility for your actions good bad or indifferent. That way, when you do receive feedback, you can accept it in your stride and move on.

Now you’ve got to learn to

3. Use criticism as a means for improving. Criticism is given to leaders for various reasons. First, work out why those around you might be feeling this way and try to remedy it so that they feel they have a greater ability to innovate, participate in developing solutions, and initiate changes.

Also reflect over the criticism. Often there is the germ of accuracy in even the most negative criticism and if you can pull out something positive from this, it serves not only for you but your leaders and players.

Lastly, don’t take to heart the criticism. There will always be people who lop tall poppies because they feel jealousy or personal frustration at not taking action. Take critiques in your stride and let it be.

Step 4. Praise for the sake of recognition, not as a means of deflecting criticism. Always note the good that those working under you do, and always make a point of giving them due credit for their efforts. Don’t praise only when you fear criticism, or you will always be on the back foot. Praise because you genuinely feel the person has made a concerted effort to step up or has made a valuable contribution and acknowledge them for that.

Last and certainly not least:

5. Role model dealing with criticism. Let others see good reactions from you when you are criticized or to phrase it positively, given feedback. Your ability to listen and learn, and your ability to acknowledge where you have made mistakes teaches others that it’s OK to err. That’s a lesson that only a leader can effectively teach. So be the leader!

In our Sports Leadership Programs we will take these tools to another level again and you will learn to manage more than your ability to receive feedback, you will also learn the tools to constructively manage difficult conversations of your own and gain definitive skills around how to lead from the front and inspire those around you to step up without having to ask for it!!

I look forward to working with you even more on this level…

Right now, think of one piece of feedback you have received recently, and take one piece of learning out of it that will help you grow and develop as a player and a person

Richard Maloney

Author's Bio: 

Our Sports Leadership Coach is headed up by Richard Maloney.

I have over 15 years experience as an established leader in sales, marketing and sponsorship within the sports industry working with organisations such as Fremantle Football Club (AFL) and TEAMelbourne (AFL, NRL, NBL, VN, and MRC).

I now work as an accredited NLP Practitioner and a Sports Mindset & Leadership Strategist as well as an Executive Leadership Coach with many Government and Corporate organisations across the nation. My focus is on leadership, team skill development and social and emotional intelligence and my true passion is to create and develop athletes and teams to help them unlock their full potential.

I have a proven successful sporting background including accomplishments in a range of management positions such as Board Director, Coach & Captain in the Australian Football League System in Melbourne, Perth and Queensland.

I am dedicated to promoting and empowering new and current leaders within the playing team and the broader community.