The stakes are high for developing self-aware leaders. Research has shown that high levels of self-awareness lead to better team performance and conflict management, but most people have no clue how others perceive them.
Self-aware leaders rely on honest feedback from their employees and colleagues to understand their strengths and uncover any fatal flaws they may have.
But employees are sometimes reluctant to give their bosses constructive criticism, especially if they feel their position or a promotion is on the line, writes Paul Petrone for the LinkedIn Learning blog.
To get honest feedback from your team, you need to create a space where they feel comfortable speaking up. Dorie Clark, an adjunct business administration professor at Duke University, says this simple question can help: “How can I be a better manager to you?”
Leaders should ask this question regularly during one-on-one meetings with their employees, recommends Clark. “It shows your employee that you care what they think,” she says. “Most managers never bother to ask, so that already sets you apart.”
Your employee might ask for more autonomy on certain projects or propose a new process for team meetings. As a leader, its your responsibility to incorporate their feedback or, if you can’t, explain why, writes Petrone.
Don’t expect all the feedback you get to be helpful, says Alison Green, the HR expert behind the “Ask A Manager” blog. You might receive low-quality feedback that lacks perspective or an impossible request. “But if you want to be a good manager, and if you want to be a manager who people give honest feedback to, you need to welcome it all, show that you’re taking it seriously, and engage with it in a real way.”
That doesn’t mean you should act on every piece of feedback you receive. Instead, incorporate responses, like “I’m really glad to have your perspective” or “Let me explain my own thinking in why we do it this way,” to take your team’s comments into consideration, suggests Green. Remember, feedback should be an ongoing conversation—and no one wants to follow a leader who blatantly ignores negative criticism (Petrone, LinkedIn blog, 1/21).