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Be courageous - ask for feedback

In a previous blog, we talked about self reflection – the importance of being self aware, knowing your strengths and understanding how (and why) you react to things. One of the reasons great leaders are highly self aware is because they ask for feedback. However, feedback (not praise) is one of the most difficult things for humans to hear.

Often the word conjures up thoughts of evaluation and judgement. Good and bad. Right and wrong.

Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone wrote in an article for Harvard Business Review: “The [feedback] process strikes at the tension between two core human needs — the need to learn and grow, and the need to be accepted just the way you are.”

So if it’s that difficult, how can we tackle this tricky subject?  Well there really is nothing to fear. Yes, it requires courage to take that first step; however you will appreciate the benefits almost immediately. If we frame feedback as an essential part of learning, it becomes less about judgement and negativity and more about opportunities.

Seeking feedback can help us become the best we can be; enabling us to understand how we’re performing. For example, do you know how others see you as a leader?  

So how can we ask for feedback to help us become better leaders?

Some tips to follow:

1. Who can you ask? 

Ask someone who will be honest with you, is credible and has the opportunity to observe you. Think of someone who will challenge your perspective. It could be your line manager, another leader, or a colleague within your team.

2. Identify a developmental goal

Review your most recent performance discussion. Identify one or two specific behaviours which, if you were to focus on, would have a considerable impact on your performance. Be clear on your goals.

3. Plan on timing

Decide how often you will ask for feedback. Once the person is aware you are looking for feedback, you will find they will be ready to share their perceptions with you. The more often you receive feedback, the greater the opportunity to work on your goals.

Seeking feedback features in the Forbes ‘Top 10 Traits of Courageous Leaders’: “We all have blind spots that impact the way we interact with others.  Unfiltered 360-degree feedback is not always easy to hear, but it can breathe new life into your relationships and leadership style if you listen and act”.

It takes a huge amount of humility to seek information about ourselves as leaders, both from ourselves, and others. Be courageous – don’t wait for feedback, ask for it, today.

If you’d like further tips on how to be more courageous, please get in touch at

Posted on Thu, January 22, 2015 in Leadership Personal Development
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