"Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it's done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves." Brendan Behan
Ok, first, apologies for the quote this week. I couldn't help myself as I have had about as much of Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann as I can take. (Rush Limbaugh goes without saying as do several others in my book). There is no challenge to being a critic. It takes no effort. There is generally no accountability and no ownership in the critic's approach. Those who make their lives criticizing all others are of limited usefulness to the rest of us. Yes, at times they may call our attention to something of value that we otherwise wouldn't have seen, but to do so with such vitriol makes the message of the critic more toxic than the usefulness of the criticism.
You may know somebody like this, even if they are not as extreme as the screaming heads on TV and radio. The greatest danger of the critics is that they inherently need others who agree with their criticism. Without support, the critic is simply an unhappy (and sometimes loud) person. With support he or she seems wise and insightful. This is the true reason for the critic's ongoing and never ending spew of venom. It is entirely self-serving. It's like the sales technique of cold calling…if you say something often enough to enough people you will gain the following that you need to be successful.
True useful criticism is invaluable to a leader. Having no criticism at all creates a situation where the leader lacks useful and important data. But that is different than having a critic whose sole purpose is in providing negative feedback and self-serving diatribes. Look to criticism but not to the critic.