March 2015

Ask for Feedback

It's not enough to have great intentions if you're not clear on how you're being perceived. We all have 'blind spots' when it comes to recognizing exactly how others experience us.  Collecting feedback is a primary component of my coaching process with leaders and I frequently find that my clients have blind spots around their "do best" areas, which are equally as important as the "do less" aspects. 

One of the best ways to learn about your impact on others is to ask for feedback. Try to be clear and specific about what you want feedback on.  Avoid questions that are too general, like,"can you give me some feedback on how I'm doing?"  And then be sure you are really ready for the feedback and prepared to hear and act on constructive ideas.

Here are some ideas to try:

  • Ask trusted colleagues if they would be willing to give you feedback in a specific area. For example, if you are looking to become a better presenter or meeting leader, ask colleagues to give you a constructive critique of your next presentation or meeting.
  • Make a list of your strengths as you see them and ask a colleague to check the ones he or she would agree with and to add or subtract from the list. 
  • Ask a colleague, “If you were to pick one aspect of my leadership that I could maximize or change that could make the biggest positive difference for me, what would you suggest?”

Here are two additional ideas for getting feedback from executive coach, Marshall Goldsmith in his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There:

  • Make a list of people’s casual remarks about you. Goldsmith suggests writing down any remark about you or your behavior, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Do this over the course of several days, both at home and at work. Then separate the list by positive and negative comments. Look for patterns. The beauty of this idea is that you are compiling information without anyone being aware of giving you feedback.
  • Turn the sound off. Mentally turn off the sound to observe how people physically respond to you.
    • Do people make impatient gestures while you’re talking? 
    • Do they lean toward you or away? 
    • Are they trying to impress you or are they barely aware of your presence? 

I worked with a leader who was trying to get better in relationship building, and this exercise was quite helpful to him. He began to notice how people reacted to him, which helped him recognize those unintentional things he was doing that negatively impacted his leadership effectiveness.

It's easy to become confident and comfortable with the picture we have of ourselves.  If we don't periodically test our assumptions, we run the risk of overlooking important impacts on others that can undermine results.

So.... ask for some feedback today!  You may find that just a few simple shifts will make a big difference. 

"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy is when men are afraid of the light."  - Plato

Are you achieving the results you want?
The best leaders make simple shifts or practical changes for big results.  I work closely with leaders to create practical solutions to achieve real success. Let me help you discover what's possible. Visit my website for details.

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