Leadership involves asking for, and willingly listening to, feedback.
Asking for comments, suggestions and insight from team members on what’s working and what’s not is important for two reasons:
1. It provides leaders new information and perspective.
2. It creates an inclusive atmosphere where people feel valued.
Of course, that only works if the ask is followed by a willingness to listen, respond and act on the feedback provided.
Perhaps the most difficult part of accepting feedback is keeping an open mind when the feedback is unexpected, negative or delivered poorly. The following steps help process that feedback.
1. Don’t get defensive or allow personal biases to interfere with the message.
2. Take some time to evaluate. Asking for feedback doesn’t automatically mean it must be accepted. It is a resource for consideration and evaluation.
3. Respond. When there is no response to feedback, apathy and resentment flourish. People start wondering why leaders bothered asking, why they bothered responding and the next time they are asked, they won’t respond.
And finally, asking for feedback because a book or blog said that’s what leaders do is not a reason to ask. Real leaders don’t ask unless they want a truthful answer, even if the truth hurts.