Ignore the Critics

Updated: Jul 27

People who move into leadership positions immediately become targets for critics.

Whether it be increased power, higher salary, or more freedom, people become jealous of the rewards.

As educational leaders, we are taught to be humble, modest, and unassuming.

We are taught to be servant leaders.

So when others take shots at the merits of our leadership and complain about the benefits of our positions, we bite our tongues and absorb the criticism.

At some point, all the criticism adds up and we buy in to the negativity.

Maybe I am doing something wrong?

Should I feel bad about the perks of my position?

Do I really deserve what I am given?

This article is meant to debunk these feelings.

Don’t feel bad about being a school leader.


In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell reminds us, “Every person who has achieved any success in life has made sacrifices to do so. Many working people dedicate four or more years and pay thousands of dollars to attend college to get the tools they'll need before embarking on their career. Leaders must give up to go up. That's true of every leader regardless of profession. Talk to leaders, and you will find that they have made repeated sacrifices. Effective leaders sacrifice much that is good in order to dedicate themselves to what is best.”

Every school administrator has made sacrifices to acquire his or her position:

  • Administrators invest at least two years of additional schooling

  • Superintendents invest at least four years of additional schooling

  • PhDs and EdDs invest at least six years of additional schooling

Speaking of PhDs, when I was nearing completion of my doctorate I had a colleague ask, “Are you really going to make people call you Dr. Smith?”

While I had been asked this question a few times by family members in jest, this individual posed the question in such a way that suggested by adopting the "Dr." prefix I was self-absorbed.

For the next several weeks, I thought to myself, “Am I full of myself? Do I really need to have others call me Doctor?”

In those insecure moments I forgot the effort that went into earning the degree:

Waking at 4:00am to write for two hours before my "day job" started. Giving up weekends with friends to complete research. Tens of thousands of dollars toward tuition as opposed to a new car or summer trips. Missed tailgates and football games with family because I was sitting in class. Eight years where homework was always on my mind.

Reminding myself of the sacrifices I made allowed me to move past the comment and helped me accept the rewards that accompanied the degree, including the new title.


At some point, every leader will be criticized about the power, salary, or freedom of their position.

When this happens, tell yourself of the following:

You can complain all you want about the perks but the path to school leadership is not easy. You can whine about the advantages but you must understand the personal sacrifices it took to get to this point. It has taken many years of hard work to earn this position.

Taylor Swift reminds listeners "Haters gonna hate" in her hit song "Shake it Off."

When the trolls emerge, don't forget the blood, sweat, and tears it took to get where you are.

Looking for a great book discussing the hard work that goes into leadership? Check out The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene.

Copyright © 2019 by Dr. Jared Smith LLC.  Specializing in Leadership, Education, and Personal Growth.