As a leader, each and every day you’re besieged with irreconcilable demands from those you work with and for. And although you have sway over the direction of your business, you rarely have access to the much-needed objective and ongoing feedback about your ideas, plans, and performance. Perhaps you’re not that worried about it, but here is why you should be.
Failing to seek out and encourage those you lead to share the unvarnished truth and actionable feedback about how best you can boost your performance and lead better can have dire consequences for you and your long-term success.
The longer you delay asking, the less likely it will be that you’ll get the type of candid perspective and opinion you need to keep you from making critical errors in judgment. You can’t become an effective leader by trial and error, but conversely, you certainly can become a terrible one.
So why are so many leaders afraid to ask those they lead to give it to them straight?
The answer is really two‐fold. As a leader they haven’t learned how to or don’t want to open themselves up to being vulnerable in this way with their team. They haven’t invested in building the trust that encourages people around them to tell them the truth without fearing negative repercussions—especially when what is being said will contradict them or be negative about their performance as a leader. Realizing your success as a leader goes through and depends on those who work for you is the first step in getting those you lead to tell you what you might not want to hear.
Here’s How You Make Give It To Me Straight The Rule Of The Day
Make sure you’re the one who shakes up the status quo and takes the active role in asking for feedback about how you’re doing on a recurring basis. Follow these simple guidelines:
- Call Out The Fear – Recognize there is a degree of fear and risk when someone is willing to be candid with you. As the leader, it is your obligation to take the first step toward making the situation a relaxed one for the other person. Enable them to speak openly by calling out the fear and acknowledging it. Let them know that you appreciate and understand that it is difficult to share feedback with a boss—especially if it is negative in nature. Tell them you want to know no matter what because if you don’t have a realistic picture of what you’re doing well and not doing well, then you don’t improve as a leader.
- Make It A No Repercussion Zone – Make it clear there are never any repercussions for sharing feedback that helps learning or growth, even if it is different than what you think or believe. Be consistent and apply this beyond these feedback conversations to meetings and all matters.
- Have A Go-To Question – Have a go-to question that you can easily call upon to break the ice and start the conversation flowing like, “What is it that I can do to become a more effective leader for our team?”
- Speak To More Than One Person – Make sure you ask more than one person the same question separately and outside of a formal conversation. Reiterate that you want them to give it to you straight. You don’t have to ask everyone every time—just make sure that you reach out to everyone over the course of a few months.
- Read Between The Lines – Listen for what is being said and perhaps not being said. Follow up and get clear by asking for specifics and asking for examples and use open ended questions to solicit more input.
- Get A Concrete Step You Can Take And Implement – Ask them for one future-focused suggestion that if you implemented today would improve your performance.
- Share What You’re Going To Do – Look for areas in which to agree, and say so when you find them. Let them know what you’ve chosen from what they said to implement.
- Reward The Sharing – With “thank you”—as a leader, remember that any time someone shares his or her insight with you it is a gift.
- Make Asking For Feedback Your MO – Ask for their input often and in all things that impact the work and performance of the team. Especially follow up on how you’re doing with the suggestions you implemented from your conversation with them. It doesn’t just have to be in formal ways. Ask for quick feedback on ideas also. The key here is consistency.
The people who work for us shouldn’t be the only ones desperately seeking more frequent and actionable feedback—as their leader, you should shake up the dynamic and be the first one to ask for future-focused suggestions, opinions, and perspectives on everything ranging from business matters to how you can boost your performance as their leader.
Let me know how you’re planning to ask those you lead how you’re doing.
All my best,
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