It stings when someone else shares how you might improve your leadership. Receiving constructive criticism can feel painful.
As humans, we seek to be loved and accepted. When someone provides feedback intimating that we still have work to do in order to be amazing, it can threaten our sense of self-worth. The haunting doubt as to whether we are “good enough” to be accepted, to belong, rises up.
How can you as leader turn this around and put feedback to work for you?
Constructive feedback is necessary to our growth and professional development. We all have blind spots. And since we don’t have the same vantage point that others do, their perspective can be invaluable.
There are three important steps, however, to making sure that we take full advantage of the situation.
1. Practice careful listening.
As you receive the information from the other person, try to remember that this is actually a gift that can help you move forward. Refrain from interjecting, objecting, defending, or explaining in any way, and simply thank them, instead. If you need clarification, ask questions in order to better understand. This is a time to put your listening skills to work, which is much different than simply hearing. For more on this, download the free infographic “How to Raise Your Influence in Less Than Five Seconds.”
2. Consider the feedback carefully.
You may feel defensive and want to discount what you have just heard. Or you may feel a need to rush to action in an attempt to remedy what has been pointed out as shortfall. Resist these impulses. Instead, weigh carefully what you have heard. Can you see how the feedback might be true? Is the person providing the feedback credible? Have you received this same constructive criticism from other people? If you are not sure, check quietly with a couple of trusted colleagues to test this out.
3. Develop a plan to close the gap.
Return to the person who provided you with feedback and ask them to clarify what success looks like. Work with a trusted mentor or coach to identify steps and tools that will help you get there and ask them to be your accountability partner. Check in from time to time to gauge the effectiveness of your plan not only with this partner, but also with the person who provided you with the gift of feedback.
Putting tough feedback to work for you requires courage. But the payoff in your ability to be effective can be tremendous.
© Patti Cotton and patticotton.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that attribution is made to Patti Cotton and patticotton.com, with links thereto.
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.