One of the most effective ways to get better as a leader and build trust with your team is to do one thing: consistently ask for feedback. Yet one of the scariest things for a leader to do is … ask for feedback.
It’s at once a very simple idea and a difficult task. Asking for feedback makes you vulnerable, and it also makes the person providing the feedback a little uncomfortable. It makes you vulnerable because you have to expose yourself to hearing about your weaknesses or shortcomings, and it makes them uncomfortable because they have to tell you about those deficiencies and potentially “bruise” you a little in the process.
Even though it can be uncomfortable, people generally desire to share their feedback and ideas. Yet, in organizations and teams, this does not consistently occur, especially when it involves providing feedback to the leader. Why is that? There are really two main reasons why team members do not offer feedback to their leader:
1) They have not been asked to provide any feedback.
2) Or, they fear some sort of retribution or punishment if they are honest.
However, the good news is that over time, leaders can create an environment where they regularly ask for and receive honest feedback that is non-threatening to them or the person providing the feedback. It starts with building trust and communicating your intentions. Let your team know that you desire to get better as a leader and you need their help. Then ask some key questions, such as:
– What am I currently doing well?
– What areas can I improve upon that will help me lead more effectively?
– What can I do to help you achieve your full potential and do your job more effectively?
Start with these questions and see what happens. You might be amazed at what you learn, and more importantly, how your team responds to your vulnerability and desire to get better as a leader. These are the type of leadership actions that build trust and foster unity.
Quotes on Feedback:
“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” -Ken Blanchard
“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.” -Elon Musk
“Most companies don’t have a good mechanism to give the CEO real, honest feedback.” -Scott Weiss