Subscribe to Inc. magazine

Why Your Team Could Benefit From Public Criticism

One psychologist recently made the case that real leaders take criticism out from behind closed doors.

No one likes receiving negative feedback. And they likes it even less when their peers are witness to such a criticism. 

However, it might be exactly what your team needs, says organization psychologist Roger Schwarz. Schwarz recently wrote that criticizing in private undermines team members' accountability to each other.  

"You send the message that team members are accountable only to you, not to the team. You also send the entire team the message that they don't need to hold each other accountable — you'll do it for them," he says. 

By addressing problems as a team, Schwartz says you ensure that your employees are accountable to each other for working together and eliminate the possibility of one employee blaming the team's failure on the other behind the closed door. Not only will you be able to determine what went wrong faster, but as a team you will be able to effectively determine how such problems can be avoided in the future. 

Of course, kissing the "praise in public and criticize in private" adage goodbye will require you to get out of your comfort zone. 

"Leadership isn't about being comfortable; it's about being effective, even when you're uncomfortable. Smart leaders address ineffective team member behavior in the team setting when it occurs, or when the behavior affects the team. In the team: that's where the information, solution, and accountability are," explains Schwarz.


Last updated: Mar 26, 2013


Jana Kasperkevic is a graduate of Baruch College, City University of New York, where she earned a bachelors degree in Journalism and Political Science. She covers start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurship for Inc. Her work has appeared in The Village Voice, InvestmentNews, Business Insider, and Houston Chronicle, among others. She lives in Brooklyn.

Register on today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments

Or sign up using: