Feedback: How to receive it well

Perhaps one of the most important implications of developing an intentional career is that we need to go on a journey of self-discovery (and to a certain extent, of self-disclosure). The more we can identify, own and honour all aspects of who we are, the better we can show up as a leader for others.

One of the most powerful tools in your toolbox to enable you to do this is feedback. How are you at receiving feedback? Do you welcome it like an unexpected gift or shy away from it? Feedback is our route to growth.

It is how we learn about ourselves and the world around us. Without it, we have only a one-way filter on the world, and we know that this filter can be faulty, so we all need a little help sometimes.

In the organisational arena, this can be fraught with issues (especially when it is tied to annual reviews, promotion prospects and competitive behaviours) but if we take a wider view of the use of feedback, we can choose to use it as a helpful tool of self-discovery.

The aim of gathering feedback is to widen your arena while narrowing your blind-spot to the point where feedback no longer creates surprises or unexpected dynamics (eg, in the form of resistance).

To do this, I recommend you ask three to five trusted people for feedback. This can be someone influential in your current organisation (but who is not part of your reporting line) or perhaps a past boss or someone you know and admire. Once you have decided who you want to talk to, ask them some questions, for example:

  • What things do you feel I do really well? (Always ask for examples.)

  • Where do you feel I still need to develop?

  • What do you think would be a realistic career or leadership goal for me in five years’ time? (Or, where could you see me in five years?)

  • What piece of advice can you give me right now to help me to progress as a leader?

Use these insights to help review your elevator pitch (see previous blog here). Make a note of where the development areas are (especially if they are repeated) and define some actions to address them. If you manage a team, perhaps asking some of your members what they need from you as their leader will also bring some important insights that will help you develop your arena in the best way.

Remember that all feedback is good, but only some is useful, so I'll cover how to filter feedback in an upcoming blog.

This is an excerpt from The Female Edge which is available on Amazon.

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