I am dealing with a senior leader (let us call him John) who always seem to be pointing out others' mistakes and shortcomings in everyone's work via email.
John frequently does this to architects, managers, etc. and although others don't like it they tolerate it because there is no specific person that one could escalate this issue to without creating a big fuss about it. John is a senior architect who reports directly to CTO, so any escalation regarding him has to be escalated to the CTO which would create a lot of drama. Everyone thinks it is not worth it and they just tolerate his behavior.
John is not consistent with his behavior. He is generally okay in face-to-face conversations. It is only in emails where he sometimes appears to be mildly caustic. Sometimes the issue he points out in email are genuine issues but many times they are not genuine. Here are some examples of issues that are not genuine with my commentary in parentheses:
"You guys should have done the redesign work by the last sprint." (Actually, it was agreed upon that the redesign work has to be done at some point but it was never communicated precisely exactly when that work was supposed to be started or finished. Further, John is not our boss. We have a different boss who is the one who decides what we work on in which sprint).
"You guys did not attend meeting about the hardware purchase." (Actually, our guys were never invited to that meeting.)
"The document you wrote is missing details about future growth plan." (Never mind the fact that the person who wrote the document wrote it voluntarily to share what he knows about the current project with his team. John was not even the primary audience for the document. He was in the recipient list out of courtesy (FYI basis). Most of us are thankful that this guy wrote this document on his own although nobody asked him to do so. But John does not have a word of appreciation for this volunteer work. He has an issue that the document missed a good-to-have but not-so-critical detail.)
Some of these are mildly important things and some are trivial. Most of us do not choose to retaliate because it would look petty. It seems frivolous to be responding with something like, "But nobody invited us to that meeting!"
Have you faced such a senior leader? What is the right way to deal with it?