The feedback the leaders I work with is almost always well balanced between the positive and the critical. Yet its common for them to get most emotional over what they view as the negative comments.
It took me time in the early years of being a coach to get used to the reactions leaders had when I debriefed them on their 360 feedback results. Shock, sadness, anger, denial, and embarrassment are but a few. There were more tears than I anticipated. At the same time, I learned to help them to gain some perspective about what others say about them.
Are you avoiding getting feedback from others because some of it might be critical? You might be passing up some valuable information you need to understand your strengths and areas for development. My suggestion is to temper your immediate emotional reactions to tough feedback by:
Giving yourself time to digest the information. Take a step back to understand that the feedback you get will most likely include a healthy balance between what you are doing well and where you need to improve. Your immediate focus on the critical aspects of what others think will throw you off guard and bury your many strengths. Its important for you to be aware of the the strengths others see in you too.
Realizing its someone’s perspective when critical information is provided. Settle down, take some time, and consider what’s being said. Discuss the feedback you’ve received with someone you trust who can help you to see the balance and give another perspective to the information. Realize that any feedback you receive is someone’s opinion, not necessarily the absolute truth.
Knowing that you can choose how you want to feel and/or act upon the information that has come back from others. Ask yourself if you buy into what you’ve heard and if so, whether it’s worth your time and effort to do something about it. On the other hand, the opinions and perspectives of others might just have some merit that is important to your future success.
Understanding that the positive and negative information are both valuable for your development. Yes, it’s great to know that others know and appreciate your strengths. And its also good to know what they think your developmental needs might be (that’s in the critical stuff). Those critical things might be the things you need to work on that give you the boost to become a great leader!
Yes, you should consider seriously what others think about you and your leadership. That doesn’t mean you agree with the feedback or that you have to do anything about it. You can still make some choices. Is the feedback you received worthy of your time and effort? Will it will make a difference in lifting your leadership from good to great? If the answers are yes then you know what to do.