Why The Best Leaders Crave Feedback

A recent study finds that the best predictor of a high performance evaluation is self-awareness—the ability to seeing yourself as others see you. And the best predictor of a low evaluation is overrating your own leadership skills.

If you want to position yourself for success, you need to understand your strengths and weaknesses—to know where you excel and where you’re average or even a bit below. The best way to gain that knowledge is from others—which means learning to ask for honest feedback and receive it graciously is an essential skill. Here are some pointers in obtaining useful feedback and getting the most of it:

Make the ask. Most people are reluctant to give feedback, especially if it is negative, but the best leaders make a habit of asking for honest feedback. Explain that you’re seeking to build your self-knowledge and that feedback—positive or negative—will help you learn more about who you are and how other people experience you.

Ask those who know you best. The best people to provide accurate, genuinely helpful feedback are those who know you best, and especially those who have worked with you. They’ll be able to give you a clear snapshot of your strengths and weaknesses—both their first impression and their opinions that have developed over time.

Go to multiple sources. Make sure you request feedback from more than one source and spread your requests among the most diverse group possible. You’ll benefit from multiple perspectives and be able to confirm which opinions seem most prevalent. Never accept your own self-assessment until it’s been verified by at least two other people who know you.

Get past defensiveness. Self-knowledge is a critical key to success, and a defensive reaction to feedback takes away that key. Take a step back, follow the rules of good listening and validate what’s being said even if you disagree. Perceptions are important, and you have to learn how to accept feedback even if you feel it is not justified. It’s the only way to fix your blind spots.

Let go of denial. It’s hard to hear that you might not be good at something, especially something you considered a strength. The good news is that once you accept the reality of the situation, you can begin to take steps to change it. I always tell my clients, “What you don’t own ends up owning you.” So let go of denial, accept the feedback and work through whatever is keeping you playing small.

Don’t try to fix it alone. If you get consistent feedback about an area in which you need development and growth, don’t try to turn it around on your own. Find someone who can help you dig deeper and see around your blind spots. A coach can help you understand and overcome your leadership gaps so you can learn what’s getting between you and your potential.

The best leaders will always seek out feedback and value it as a gift. When you know better, you can do better.

Lead from within: Just as the unexamined life is not worth living, unexamined leadership is not worth pursuing.


#1 N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R

The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. William Higgins

    20. Apr, 2020

    It is essential that a true leader seeks out and welcomes feedback. While all may not be followed, it helps to verify if your communication has been received or not. Engagement helps individuals feel valued in an organization. My first Commanding Officer, CAPT H. Reeves Adair, on USS Boston (SSN-703) was a great example. Unfortunately the following CO was the opposite.

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