By Richard L. Farnell II
Honest feedback is the breakfast of champions: it allows those who seek and incorporate it to identify their blind spots, increase self-awareness, and become a better version of themselves. Unfortunately, some leaders skip this important “meal” to stay comfortable and avoid criticism that may compromise their psychological well-being.
Failing to receive honest feedback can stunt the growth of leaders and organizations. Honest feedback enables transparency, in contrast to feedback that is only open to compliments or praises. Consider a person who never gets physical checkups or ignores symptoms of ailments. This type of behavior could potentially create long-term irreversible effects. Similarly, leaders who ignore honest feedback from their employees can hinder performance levels and put organizations at risk, leaving employees unable to trust them.
There is a myriad of reasons some leaders struggle to receive feedback, but a few are especially worth mentioning. First, seeking and enabling feedback requires a willingness to be vulnerable that some leaders lack. Leaders look for trusted employees when eliciting feedback. This process works well if the leaders have a variety of minds to draw from and the feedback loop stays transparent. However, this is often not the case, so it is important for leaders to seek feedback from multiple sources—particularly those they feel can give them unexpected, perhaps even unwanted perspectives.