One of the greatest marks of leadership is humility. The character to accept constructive criticism, to serve others, and respect teammates. This is the same character that allows true leaders to accept mistakes, apologize, give recognition where it is due, and share the glory with the team.
Being humble enough to take feedback from admirers and critics is key to the growth of a leader.
This article seeks to promote two types of feedback that a leader can use to reach her full potential. The article answers these questions;
- Why should the leader ask for feedback?
- How should the leader ask for feedback?
- Who should she take feedback from?
- When should he take feedback?
- What should she do with the feedback?
- Which areas should he accept feedback?
Feedback according to the Google dictionary is “information about a person’s performance of a task which is used as a basis for improvement”. Feedback is meant to improve the person and not to demotivate them.
It is in the best interest of the leader to take feedback, whether it good or bad, and sift through the feedback with the sieve of critical analysis. Using this sieve, the leader will be able to differentiate feedback from mere criticisms. Even destructive criticism has a positive side which can be extracted as feedback for improvement.
Effective leaders from all facets of society since the inception of civilization have employed many tactics to solicit feedback. One such great leader, Teacher and philosopher is Jesus Christ, a leader who continues to influence millions because he understood feedback.
Jesus had thousands following him in his days. He also had the one hundred and twenty, the seventy-two, the twelve, and even the core three. At the time of asking for the feedback, he asked the twelve disciples. Why didn’t he ask the thousands? Why not the one hundred and twenty or seventy-two? It is because the whole essence of feedback is to get a true reflection of your leadership status; areas for improvements and areas to suffocate.
This is a typical example of what I term the “Push Feedback”, where the leader asks his team how he is faring to enable him grow. The fullest benefits of the Push Feedback can be inured when the leader has identified areas for growth and comes out with a comprehensive questionnaire to solicit areas for improvement and growth.
That is why every leader should have the core; this can be composed of accountability friends, spouses, management team et al. The only requirement is that the people should be close enough to give a general and panoramic assessment of the leader.
Also, the leader shouldn’t be too intimidating to be surrounded by praise singers. This has created the downfall of many good leaders who could have been great leaders.
An open leader practices an ‘open door policy’. This does not necesserily mean keeping the office door open. It just means accepting the inputs of the team. Open leaders can recieve feedback from anybody in the organization- from the lowliest casual labourer to the highest board chair.
As the leader engages the led, followers might tell the leader who she truly is. This is the “Pull Feedback”, where people voluntarily tell the leader how she is faring, without her asking.
It is however advisable to categorize the people giving the feedback. In our parts of the world, it may be difficult for subordinates to be frank with their bosses in matters of performance. So not to be like Caesar mobbed by cheap praise singers on the streets of Ancient Rome, a leader must remind herself that she is only human and she has weaknesses.
That is why a leader should intentionally look for people who can tell it as it is without sugarcoating and mincing words. She needs such people. The leader is also required to create the openness ambience where his team can be true to him.
Leaders wear many hats in their roles with family, colleagues, and other groups. A good leader hears feedback, but a great leader listens, appreciates, and makes good use of feedback.
One way to become a great leader is to combine push feedback and pull feedback in order to get a true reflection of who you are and how to improve. Without feedback, you are not going anywhere as a leader. You are naked! You might do your best but won’t reach your fullest potential. Who do people say you are?
Photo credit- g4tv.com