It’s lonely at the top. And the more power you wield, the less honest feedback you tend to get from those around you.

Some organizations provide structured programs, such as 360-degree feedback, to assure that leaders collect input on their behavior and performance. But it’s even better to gather informal feedback from trusted colleagues.

To extract valuable input from your peers:

Seek specifics. Many leaders refrain from asking peers for blunt feedback. Why? They don’t want to appear vulnerable, they may compete with their colleagues rather than view them as supportive allies, or they may not welcome criticism.

“But your peers are often in the best position to help you improve,” said Karin Hurt, chief executive of Let’s Grow Leaders, a Baltimore-based consultancy.

She suggests asking a peer, “My intent is to make a greater contribution to the team. Would you tell me one thing I can do to be more effective on this team?” That’s better than a vague inquiry such as, “Do you have any feedback for me?”

Or you can ask, “I’m seeking to improve my communication skills. What’s one thing I can do to communicate better?”

“The first sentence grounds it in positive intent,” said Hurt, co-author of “Winning Well.” That ups the odds you’ll get more substantive input.

Ask now, not later. You’re more apt to get meaningful input if you ask for it in a timely manner. Seek feedback as soon as possible after the event in question.

“If you wait too long and say, ‘Remember last week at that meeting …’ it’s not going to be as fresh in their mind,” Hurt said.

Withhold judgment. You need not render an instant verdict on the validity of the feedback. Instead, confirm your understanding — and then say something neutral and express your gratitude.

“If you disagree with it, just say ‘that’s interesting’ and ‘thank you,’ ” she said.

Read more:


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here