Supercharge your growth and leadership ability

Mistakes are a part of life and they are a fundamental part of growth both as a person and as a leader.

Reggie James
September 28, 2018

So what do you do when you make a mistake? What if you don’t know you’ve made a mistake?

I recently made a costly mistake that could have set back my business by several months. I met with a potential client and misjudged what his needs were. It’s likely that I revealed too much information, which made us falsely seem like a poor choice for his business.

My business partner gave me this simple piece of feedback: “Next time we need to figure out the messaging.” Translation: “Be more prepared.”

More important than my mistake is the relationship between my partner and I where feedback is the norm. We all have blind spots and miss things. We need to surround ourselves with people who will tell us the truth and not just what we want to hear.

In his book, The 5 Levels of Leadership, John Maxwell writes, “If you want to be an effective leader, you must allow people who you work with to be candid with you. You must solicit feedback. And you must be secure and mature enough to take in people’s criticism without defensiveness and learn from it.”

For some of us, this may be extremely difficult. A whole range of factors can contribute to our inability to ask and accept feedback at any level (subordinate, peer, or superior). Some primary influences may be our upbringing, our position in the organisation, the culture of the organisation, or even expectations due to a history of success or failures.

So how do you get better at asking for and receiving feedback? Just start.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you begin asking for feedback:

  • Carefully listen as the feedback is given to you.
  • Make sure you understand the feedback. Summarise the feedback to the other person to ensure that you have the proper understanding.
  • Make sure you write notes so you can reference what was said at a later time.
  • Understand your feelings and try not to be defensive.
  • Ask for examples to help you put things into context.
  • Decide what you’ll do with the feedback: listen and change, listen and gather more information, or listen and ignore.
  • Think about whether or not you’ve heard this information before. Is there a pattern?
  • Ask other people involved if they have had similar experiences with you.

Do you want to supercharge your growth and your leadership ability? Get really good at asking for feedback and do it regularly. There are three key benefits to this practise:

  1. Asking for feedback and knowing how to handle whatever is said makes you more human. This practise will deepen your connection with people and increase trust, which is the foundation of leadership.
  2. Asking for feedback sends a strong signal to your team that they can be vulnerable with you and others. This has the effect of changing organisational culture so that more people are focused on giving and helping.
  3. You quickly learn where you need to apply your efforts for growth, and that will make you a better leader.

Asking for feedback regularly is a way to continually improve how you work and will also improve your relationships.

Start today. Ask someone how you can improve and use the tips above to get the most out of the feedback that is given.

Reggie James is a CEO / Sales Guy at Beaker & Flint where he helps organisations build digital products and guide them on their digital transformation journey.
Have some ideas or questions you want to run by Reggie? Reach out either via the comments below or start a conversation by email here.


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