Good Habits #17: Politely Accept Feedback

By | November 1, 2015

[November 1, 2015]  All leaders will tell you they politely accept feedback on their performance and encourage people to share their opinions on their leadership capability.  In practice however that is rarely true and therefore official systems have been developed as a required task to ensure feedback is given on a minimum regular schedule. True leaders, however, are tenacious about getting quality feedback and do so in a variety of ways.

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

As an example, the U.S. military has a 360 degree feedback system. But the main effort must be made by the leader to accept feedback as something helpful. I’ve written about how to get good feedback (see link here) and the key is having multi-dimensional sources usually in the form of peers, subordinates, and superiors and also to getting feedback at regular intervals. This applies to all leaders regardless of position. However, a good leader goes beyond this minimum to reach all stakeholders and perhaps even some uninterested observers.

Without senior leaders who are committed to ensuring they get quality feedback, any system will inevitably fail to work as designed. Leaders must also recognize that feedback is often biased as overly praiseworthy and in most cases, I would propose, much of it is not that valuable. Thus feedback must be accepted both politely and viewed with skepticism. This is why large organizational leaders work hard to have quality feedback systems in place; a very difficult and resource-intensive task.

“Regular feedback is one of the hardest things to drive through an organization.” – Kenneth Chenault

Leaders are often criticized, many times appropriately, for being out of touch. A good feedback system, established by the leader, goes a long way to overcoming this criticism. Leaders must do themselves a favor and accept feedback politely, with skepticism, and use that information to make themselves a better leader.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.