According to a recent study, self-awareness—the ability to see yourself as others see you—is the best predictor of a high-performance evaluation. Overestimation of your own leadership abilities is the best predictor of a low evaluation.
If you want to position yourself for success, you must first understand your strengths and weaknesses—where you excel and where you fall short. The best way to learn that knowledge is from others, which means learning to ask for and accept honest feedback is a necessary skill. Here are some tips for getting useful feedback and making the most of it:
Ask for it. Most people are hesitant to provide feedback, especially negative feedback, but the best leaders make it a habit to solicit candid feedback. Explain that you want to improve your self-awareness and that any feedback, positive or negative, will help you learn more about who you are and how others perceive you.
Ask those closest to you. Those who know you best, and especially those who have worked with you, are the best people to provide accurate, genuinely helpful feedback. They'll be able to give you a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses—both their initial impression and their evolving opinions.
Consult several sources. Make sure to solicit feedback from multiple sources and spread your requests as widely as possible. You'll benefit from multiple points of view and be able to confirm which points of view appear to be most prevalent. Never accept your own self-evaluation unless it has been confirmed by at least two other people who know you.
Get over your defensiveness. Self-awareness is a critical success factor, and a defensive reaction to feedback removes that key. Take a step back, listen carefully, and validate what's being said even if you disagree. Perceptions matter and you must learn to accept feedback even if you believe it is unjustified. It is the only way to eliminate your blind spots.
Let go of your denial. It's difficult to hear that you're not good at something, especially if it was something you considered a strength. The good news is that once you accept the reality of the situation, you can start making changes. "What you don't own ends up owning you," I always tell my clients. So let go of denial, accept feedback, and work through whatever is keeping you from playing big.
Don't try to fix it on your own. If you receive consistent feedback about an area in which you need to improve and grow, don't try to fix it on your own. Look for someone who can assist you in digging deeper and seeing around your blind spots. A coach can assist you in understanding and overcoming your leadership gaps, allowing you to learn what is standing in your way of reaching your full potential.
The best leaders will always seek out and hold feedback in high regard. You can do better when you know better.
Lead at the top of your game: Just as an unexamined life is not worth living, unexamined leadership is not worth chasing.
Louise Heite is an ICF certified Executive Leadership coach who helps leaders fuel their best selves and find breakthrough success.
With a track record of proven results, she helped scale and lead global customer support groups, built strong partnerships with Fortune 500 companies, and headed a crisis management team that brought over 2,000 people to safety. She is passionate about helping high-performing individuals excel professionally and achieve greatness in their lives and beyond.
We're on a mission to fast-track the journey to success for all leaders.