Before you reach for the 22 caliber stowed away in your glovebox, let me first clarify myself.
A leader needs to be prepared to face questions, feedback, and criticism at any time.
Your position does not mean you are not beyond reproach (no matter how senior you are). There may be times when what you say or do is simply wrong. You need to learn to be humble. Being a leader is not an end-state. It is a state on constant evolution. You will never know when you will receive your next lesson. It could originate from your own Manager or even from the guy taking out the trash in the office.
Good leaders make a mistake and learn from it quickly to ensure that it does not happen again.
Great leaders do this as well but what sets them apart is that they also solicit feedback at opportune moments to prevent mistakes from happening. Does that mean you need to send out a survey to stakeholders every time you make a business decision? You could. It will be quite hilarious. No, your approach should be informal and on a one-to-one basis. You should solicit feedback from your Manager and your staff as well, especially with people that you have a hard time getting through to. It also helps to get feedback from strangers from time-to-time if they happen to be in the vicinity of your actions.
Have you ever tried asking questions like, “How am I not helping you?”, “How do you think I can communicate with you better?” and “What is that I’m doing that you think is not right?”? If you have not, I suggest that you quit whining about how difficult people are and get on with the program.
The best leadership lessons are the ones learned the hard way. These are the ones that stick with you and may even end up defining your character. Good feedback keeps great leaders in-check. Period.
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