How to complain like a leader

by Dan Rockwell via   Article

“Great leaders have burning complaints.

I wonder how many great endeavors began as great complaints? The United States of America, for example, began with great complaints. We know the name Martin Luther King Jr. because he voiced his complaint like a leader

3 ways to complain like a leader:

The difference between complaining like a leader and complaining like a loser is duration, focus, and orientation.

  1. Discuss problems long enough to understand them.
  2. Focus on solutions. You never build the life you want by getting lost in things you don’t want.
  3. Orient language and behavior toward positives. Say what you want, even if you began with complaints.

Find positive expression to negative complaints. The bigger your complaint, the great the positive outcome you seek.


When you rule out complaining, you lose sight of your purpose. Great complaints point to purpose. Have you noticed how some are deeply troubled by a problem and others don’t care? Your great complaint explains who you are. You lose yourself when you silence your great complaint.


Great achievements are answers to great complaints.  When you rule out complaining, you accept the status quo.

The leaderly way to hear complaints:

If you’re fortunate, you hear complaints. If you don’t hear complaints, you’re out of the loop.

  1. Encourage team members to explain their complaints.
  2. Listen don’t solve. When you solve a complainers complaint, they complain about the solution.
  3. Ask four questions when teammates complain.

– What’s the good you want for others? …

–  What makes this important to you? …

– What would you like to do about this today? …

– How can I help?”


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