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Three Ways Good Leaders Seek Feedback

Effective leaders seek out constructive feedback about their leadership, work outcomes, and interpersonal interactions.

In addition, they seek out these opportunities and see the information gained as a valuable gift. With honest insights in hand, talented leaders reflect on how to improve their skills to provide even more effective, inspirational leadership.

In seeking insights from colleagues, peers, supervisors, and staff members, leaders also demonstrate the power of feedback as a positive and important learning tool. Those who see you seeking feedback are likely more open to hearing feedback.

In one recent study, leaders who sought out feedback were consistently among the top ranked for efficacy. Why? Most good leaders see feedback as a chance to learn. Granted, there are other opportunities to learn leadership – role-playing, coaching, books, observing others. However, none of these other methods give leaders actual insights on actual performance.

So what are some ways that effective leaders ask for feedback? Let’s look at three approaches.

360 Assessments
Perhaps the best known of the feedback tools, 360 assessments provide the leader with perspectives from all sides. There are various types of 360 tools including those for executives, managers, learning agility, and skills.

The assessments gather data from colleagues, subordinates, supervisors, and self. The assessed person receives quantifiable insight on strengths and opportunities, along with benchmarks as to how their scores compare to all test takers.

These assessments are an excellent way to begin a feedback discussion. A 360 assessment user gains specific information about critical leadership or managerial skills from those who work closest with her.

This assessment tool is often used for screening candidates, improving productivity and communication, or strengthening teams. It provides the user with knowledge and insight about her. The acronym stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness, four prevailing traits each of which has its own corresponding behaviors.

DISC opens up blind spots a leader may not perceive. These blind spots can then serve as points of work and areas where feedback is sought. While DISC assessments are usually done in a group setting, the results for a leader are palpable and actionable. When receiving feedback, it’s helpful to understand the giver’s DISC profile and one’s own to help shape a deeper understanding of what is provided to you.

5-Level Leadership Assessment
Developed by John Maxwell, this self-administered tool gives leaders a sense as to how effective they are in five progressively more powerful levels, including Position (people follow because they have to), Permission (because they want to), Production (because of what you’ve done for the organization), People Development (because of what you’ve done for them), and Pinnacle (because of who you are and what you represent).

There are four stages to the survey. The first asks the leader to evaluate herself in each level. The second stage has the leader evaluate her relationship with each direct report at each level. The third stage asks the leader’s direct reports to fill out an assessment of the leader’s abilities, again at each level. The fourth stage compiles the answers received to point out improvement opportunities.

Seeking feedback can be threatening to some leaders but it should not be. It is a revelatory way to gain insight and perspective, reflect on areas needing work, and celebrate what is working well.