Nobody likes being criticized. Nobody likes being told they’re wrong. Nobody likes being told that there are things about them that they need to change. As leaders in our organizations, it can be really easy to escape that discomfort. Most of the people who come into contact with us each day are probably more interested in flattering us than they are in critiquing us. So, why wouldn’t we take advantage of our position and avoid the discomfort of feedback?
Well, if we’ve risen to positions of leadership in our organizations, we probably already know the answer to this question: without feedback, we can’t improve. We can’t grow. We can’t become better leaders. The fact that so many people are trying to avoid criticism of us isn’t a benefit; it’s actually a disadvantage. If we don’t have people who are willing to tell us where we’re going wrong, then how are we supposed to turn things around and continue heading in the right direction?
Here’s my advice: always be soliciting feedback from your people. At the end of every conversation, ask your people if they agree with you and why they feel the way they do. Conduct anonymous surveys periodically on the policies you are implementing. Have an open door policy and let your people come to you when they have suggestions. Feedback may feel uncomfortable in the short term, but it strengthens us in the long term. Being a great leader often means we’ve made a lot of mistakes…and then fixed them. Find people who are willing to point out your mistakes to you–that’s how you become a stronger leader.