Self-awareness is one of the most important leadership attributes. The more self-aware the leader is, the better their decision making is likely to be. However, it can be a fine line between being delusional and thinking, “We are perfect and if only everybody else lifted their game” and too self-critical with debilitating, negative self-talk.
It is helpful to have a skin thick enough to resist petty criticism ( after all, it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time) but not so thick that we are oblivious to the negative impact we are having.
It’s not surprising that many Principals wear a suit of armour to protect their self-esteem and are resistant to feedback.
Leadership guru Dan Rockwell suggests nine ways to receive feedback like a leader:
- Assume there’s a grain of truth in the uncomfortable feedback you receive.
- The two word response to feedback is always, “Thank you.” (Even if it’s obviously off base)
- Don’t say, “Yes, but.”
- Lean in and say, “Tell me more.” Go with, not against.
- Don’t make excuses or offer explanations.
- Ask, “Could I have some time to think this over?” (If it’s hard to take.)
- Ask for examples.
- Invite feedback in the moment. “When you see me engaging in this ineffective behaviour, would you point it out in the moment?”
- Turn toward the future. “What behaviours would reflect progress?”
Rockwell observes that useful feedback requires observation. He suggests if someone gives you judgement, ask for observation. “What am I doing, that makes you think I’m detached?”
Henry Ford once said, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions!” ….and I thought it was Weetbix!