I live and operate in a professional world where feedback is a part of life. I am fortunate to surround myself with people who pay for the privilege to hear what others have to say about their business, their decisions, and their actions. It is not always easy to hear even though we know […]
As I’ve covered many times in previous blogs it becomes less and less and about you working harder or having all the answers and more about you diligently asking the right questions and letting others guide you. You need to become an expert question asker and never miss an opportunity to interact with all employees in this manner. There are seven question that when asked on a regular basis will encourage your people and ultimately the company as a whole to learn and grow:
When you lead others, everyone is a critic to some degree. It’s next to impossible to be fully aligned with another person 100% of the time. As a leader, knowing this, you can’t fall into the trap of listening to every dissenting voice. The path to mediocrity is littered with individuals who gave up their leadership power unnecessarily and allowed themselves to be unduly influenced by the opinions of others. This doesn’t mean you avoid soliciting feedback, quite the contrary, but you need to be able to filter this feedback and trust your own judgment. The world looks much different when you are actually accountable for your decisions. It’s easy to be an expert when you don’t have to deal with the consequences of your actions.
Most people I know aren’t good listeners. They are more focused on what they think and what they have to say about something rather than actually listening to what’s being said. I have a colleague who states that as a leader you need to “listen until it hurts” and I completely agree with him. It’s basic human nature that the level of satisfaction any of us have with a given conversation is directly related to how well we feel the other party was actually listening to what we had to say. Except when we are in a classroom no one actually enjoys being lectured to or talked at.
I often meet business owners/leaders who think they have it all figured out. Whenever this happens a red flag goes up for me right away. The best leaders I know are in a constant learning mode. They are very aware of what they don’t know and need to learn. They soak up information like a sponge and are energized by new thoughts and ideas. Leaders who are unwilling to admit their own shortcomings or lack of knowledge are eventually confronted with the very reality they are ignoring. It may take time, but it always happens. It’s even worse if they are completely unaware of where they fall short and end up getting blindsided. In leadership positions, ignorance is not bliss.
Many leaders often have a hard time getting real honest feedback about their performance. There are many reasons for this, but fear is usually the primary obstacle. Most people have a hard time commenting critically to others who have the ability to directly influence their work situation.
I’ve seen more damage done in organizations and families by people saying what they think the other person wants to hear rather than telling them the truth. The whole concept of “white lies” has become commonplace and most people go through life telling them on a daily basis. Instead of dealing with realty (or at least our version of it) we prefer to not to risk the discomfort and awkwardness of being honest.
There is certainly a place for being impulsive and trusting your intuition. We’ve all have examples of being forced to make tough decisions with limited information and time. However, more often than not this pressure is self-inflicted.
I recommend that in business or life before taking on anything important, step back and consult with the affected parties. Solicit their feedback not just on whether or not it’s a good idea or what steps are necessary for execution, but also what could make it fail.