Smart leaders begin the year by accepting feedback.
Many leaders don’t want to listen to the ideas, opinions, and constructive feedback of others. They operate in an ego system, not an ecosystem. Unfortunately, if you’ve ever worked with this type of leader, it can be exhausting.
A smart leader who listens well does so with active, not reactive, listening. This helps him or her to filter any criticism, cut the drama, and find the facts for an appropriate response.
Smart leaders ask the tough question, “How am I doing as a leader?” And then they listen. They are interested in receiving honest feedback so they can grow further.
In Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership, authors Don Frick and James Sipe describe nine helpful approaches when receiving feedback:
- Open. Listen without interruption, objections, or defensiveness.
- Responsive. Be willing to hear the speaker out without turning the table. Ask questions for clarification.
- Thoughtful. Seek to understand the effects and consequences of your behavior.
- Calm. Be relaxed, breathe. Assume a comfortable body posture. Be aware of your emotional reactions.
- Explicit. Make it clear what kind of feedback you are seeking and why it is important to you. Offer a structure for the feedback–questions, rating scales, stories.
- Quiet. Refrain from making or preparing to make a response. Do not be distracted by the need to explain, defend, or fix.
- Clear with your commitment. Describe how you have benefited from the feedback and what specific steps you will take toward improvement.
- Accepting. Be open to assuming the speakers’ goodwill.
- Clarifying. Make sure you are clear about what the speakers are seeing, saying, and recommending.