Critique is necessary for development and growth. We love it when we’re doing great and, let’s be honest, it sucks, stings when we aren’t. I’m convinced that critique is necessary. However, if not done properly it does the opposite of what it ought to achieve.
Great leaders are like old school mechanics. No computers or other gadgets to connect to the car to get a diagnostic. No disrespect to the mechanics with the fancy toys… Old school mechanics (and some new school ones too ;-) ) can tell you a lot about a car by the way it sounds.
Troubleshooting has a lot to do with intent listening. In fact, effective troubleshooting is impossible without great listening. The most effective leaders are listening leaders.
Feedback is an invaluable tool. Leaders with no respect for feedback are the worst kind.
In the previous post in the series we explored two reasons why leaders (and people in general) don’t get the feedback they need. The previous post focused on the importance of leaders asking for feedback and encouraging a culture that celebrates feedback.
Here are three other reasons you don’t get the feedback you need:
Bad leadership is characterized by stifling honesty. When leaders freak out on people for being honest they hurt more than just the relationships with their team but attaining vision of their enterprise.
Honesty is not synonymous with being mean. I’m not suggesting you let people be mean to you as leader. I’m saying create an environment where honesty is celebrated in more than just words.
Sometimes honesty will highlight your shortcomings as a leader. This must be taken in the context of your leading and not you as a person.
Part of maturing as a leader is being upfront with your shortcomings and putting measures in play to address them.
Feedback is not built into your systems and or processes; that’s why you don’t get it. When building systems or processes always include feedback mechanisms in them. This could be weekly updates or meetings.
You could be missing out on how to better serve those you serve, or missing out on having a more effective team, by not having feedback built into your processes.
When designing new processes remember to include feedback systems from the start. Don’t be afraid to review systems that are already in place, and change them to make feedback more effective.
One of the reasons you’re not getting the feedback you need is because you’re looking for feedback not the insights it carries.
Sometimes the feedback you need has to be sifted from the information you’ve received. Not all insights are obvious. Be prepared to interrogate your data to get the feedback you need.
Information is only as good as your understanding of its relevance and use.
Leadership is dynamic. Numerous factors affect the effectiveness of your leadership. The external environment may present challenges for growth, but growth in your leadership depends on you more than anything else.
In moving your enterprise forward embrace the fact that it is not only dealing with your external environment that will give you the edge, but yourself. To beat adverse circumstances a leader must not only focus on the circumstances per se, but on growing himself.
Leader, the level of maturity of your leadership depends on no one but you. Instead of beating the outside factors affecting your enterprise negatively, focus on growing yourself as a leader. Some leaders fail because they never focus on getting better as people and leaders. It is important that you embrace feedback as your leadership growth strategy.
Leaders who never get and or accept honest feedback about their leadership are guaranteed to fail. Getting honest feedback when it comes to areas of possible growth is not always an easy thing, yet helps makes you, leader, better.
When was the last time you asked for honest feedback on your leadership from your colleagues, those that serve under you and your superiors? If people, especially your colleagues, hardly give you any feedback, have you considered why? Do you have any systems and indicators that serve as feedback about your leadership?
Not only focus on building a feedback system for processes in your organisation but also focus building a feedback system that gives honest feedback about your leadership. I am not suggesting a means of making leadership a punching bag but one where leadership can hear what is important to better themselves as leaders and ultimately their enterprise.
How you can build a feedback system:
One of the best sources of feedback are those who serve under you. Most leaders default to being guarded. Being vulnerable, is necessary to get feedback from those you lead. In a controlled environment, engage your team to find out what you could do to lead them better.
What do you think I could do to better serve you?
What do you feel I do well?
What would you do differently if you were in my seat?
What do you feel I need to start, stop and continue doing?
How can I help you do your job better
Close to You
One of the most significant things I’ve done is marry Ingrid. Being close to someone does not only allow you to know others better, but yourself as well. There are things that Ingrid points out and can say that not many people can. Also, she has pointed out things about myself very few people have. Take a poll in your household or among your closest friends.
Create a platform where they can be honest with you and you will be surprised how well they know you and what you can learn about yourself.
With all the above out of the way, I need to point out that feedback does not mean finding out the negative only. Good feedback is honest with what you are doing well and possible areas of growth.
Feedback is not a stick that you use to beat yourself, but a tool or platform to better yourself. Without feedback as your leadership growth strategy you will fail. Therefore, embrace what you are doing well and figure out ways of doing it even better. Let the possible areas of growth be a reminder and celebration that you can be a great leader.
The first step to becoming a great leader is being aware of areas of possible growth. The second, seeing them as enablers and not obstacles. Third, acting on them.