Most people have been in a place where you have experienced that piercing, loud body cringing sound when there is feedback from a microphone. People quickly cover their ears and begin to look around to see what is going on. You then see the person with the microphone either step away from the speaker or other type of potential interference or they may just turn off the microphone temporarily. If we take a different view on this situation we can find one of the most important aspects of leadership.
Once the feedback from the sound system became loud enough, it caused an action. For the audience the action was to cover their ears and look around to see what was going on and for the speaker or person setting up the sound the response was to move away from potential interference or turn off the microphone. What we have here is a clear example of how important it is to learn from feedback.
As leaders develop the ability and skill in learning how to receive, accept and utilize feedback, they will begin to elevate themselves to an higher level of leadership. See, when you find a leader who is willing to not only receive feedback but accept it and then try to get better, you have found a rare leader. It is this rare leader that possesses the right balance of confidence, humility and understanding. When a leader is willing and open for feedback the lines of communication become clear. But more importantly, it allows communication to happen. As a leader listens to find ways they can improve, they are actually helping to empower the person providing the feedback. It is this empowerment that can create a culture where people can reach their greatest potential.
Here are some ways to help accept feedback better as a leader:
- Proactively Seek Feedback: Although some may look at you skeptical at first as you ask for their feedback on how you are doing, they will eventually open up if they know you are sincere. You must allow them to share what they need to share so they can be honest and true feedback can take place. Be specific on what areas you are looking for feedback so you can focus on the information provided to you.
- Don’t Get Defensive: This sounds much easier than it is in most cases. As a leader, you have to be able to separate your feelings from situations when needed. You cannot take everything personal or you will set yourself up and your team for failure. You need to have the confidence and trust that what the other person is sharing is indeed important enough to them that they felt the need to share with you. Being humble really helps to eliminate the feelings of defensiveness.
- Take Action: Whenever possible, once you have received feedback, take action. Nothing will show someone you value their feedback more than when you actually do something. Some actions may be simple and easy to do while others may take time. Either way, find a way to show that you actively listened to the other person and want to support them. If action is not possible, provide potential solutions or ideas and find ways to work together. This will help ensure your credibility as a leader.
- Be Appreciative: You don’t need to go overboard in thanking someone for providing feedback but giving thanks and true appreciation goes along way. When you do this you ensure that communication channels stay open. When you are genuinely thankful for someone being willing to provide feedback, you show that you are a team player and you want success for everyone. Maybe most importantly when you show your thanks, you truly empower others as they will feel valued.
It is important to realize that receiving feedback is not always easy. We are human and when we are told that we aren’t doing something right or that we are causing more issues by doing what we are doing, it can be tough. However, we also have to realize that without feedback we would be left up to our own perception of ourselves and as a leader that can often lead to disaster. As with the example of the feedback from the microphone, we can either learn and make changes to improve things or we can simply ignore and watch those we lead cover their ears and look around to see what is going on.
Decide now to become the type of leader that is confident and humble enough to accept feedback. You will inspire your team to greatness as you learn from them and with them. Feedback can be an incredibly positive way to ensure success.