A few weeks ago, we began exploring the Common Sense Leadership quality of personal growth. We discussed one particular aspect of growth: continuous improvement, which is founded on humility, allowing ourselves an attitude of “I may be good and I know I can and want to be better.” True in our work and true in our leadership.
Another particular aspect of personal growth is having the quiet confidence to share our desire to improve.
For example, hats off to someone who is capable of sharing the fact that she has recognized opportunities for personal development in her work and leadership with her teammates, including those who report to her, and her boss. Let’s face it; every single one of us has development opportunities! What is not so common though, is admitting it.
To set a wonderful example to our team, we should not only share our desire to improve our work and our leadership, we should also name the specific areas we hope to improve, which could be listening, delegating, explaining expectations, our soft skills, sharing decision making, asking for input, recognizing small successes, failure to coach and help teammates, or any number of other development opportunities. These, by the way, are not picked at random. These are common observations people provide when asked about their boss.
To set the stage about why this is so important, we must realize that 50% of people surveyed across the U.S. do not feel they have a productive working relationship with their boss. Yet, they want to succeed.
Let’s recognize that bosses do not get a lot of feedback, especially from those who report to them. Do these bosses realize that they are not effective leaders? No, they do not. They think they are fine.
There’s an answer, though. Ask for feedback, be genuine in wanting it, and be receptive in processing it.
Asking for feedback and sharing areas of improvement is a sign of security. “Here’s what I am working on, these areas. I would like your help. Please be observant. I would genuinely appreciate your giving me feedback when you feel I am doing well, and when you feel I could have done better. I will try to be receptive and not defensive. Thank you for your help.”
While giving someone specific, unfavorable feedback is difficult to do, if we are authentic in setting the tone in asking, we will go a very long way in creating an environment of safety.
And, of course, we should be equally willing to offer our favorable and constructive feedback to our teammates and colleagues, including our direct reports and bosses.
There is an art to offering and receiving feedback. There is a lot of good advice in articles, and we can share ideas if you’d like. Just email us.
Sharing thoughtful and timely feedback in an environment of earnestly striving for continuous improvement works wonders, is transformative, and will create an organizational culture that is high in positive energy and leads to personal and organizational success.
The key? Our attitude. Having the security to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Admitting to ourselves and those with whom we work, and work for, that we want to share areas of development opportunities and that we ask for their help and feedback.
This, by the way, is Common Sense Leadership!