GREAT leaders have one thing in common. They understand that in order for them to be effective, they have to keep learning how to be better. This is a never-ending process. We can always be better leaders. One of the fastest ways to learn about what we need to do differently in order to be more effective is to ASK the people around us.
Over the years I’ve seen many leaders ask others for feedback. It typically has been in the form of a third party instrument, like a survey, or having a third party coach go interview the people they work with. They think they will get more complete information if the feedback is anonymous or they have someone else go ask on their behalf. However, there is a very easy, straightforward and practical way to find out what people really think of your leadership skills: simply go ASK them. That might sound a little scary, but after you do it once or twice, I promise the fear will disappear.
The technique of Feed-Forward was developed by the forefather of executive coaching and best-selling author Marshall Goldsmith. Check out his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. Since the day he explained it in a workshop I attended, I have used it relentlessly for my own learning and coaching.
It’s really simple: Schedule five minutes with a few people you interact with regularly that includes your boss, and some of your peers and direct reports. Ask these two questions: What are the strengths that I am bringing to the team that help us be effective? What suggestions do you have for me to be a more effective leader/member of this team?
Understand that you are only to record the information they provide you, thank them for the suggestions and then leave their office or move on to another topic. There is no questioning or debating. The conversation is over.
With the new insights you’ve collected, you will be able to prioritize what you believe you should focus on to be a more effective leader. Then do these three things: Create an action plan, take action and repeat.
If you’d like to learn more about other traits of great leadership, you can read about it in Chapter 5, The Right Leadership, in my new book, Money On The Table, available here.