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Leadership Development

The One Thing You’re Forgetting About Feedback


How You Receive Feedback is Just as Important as How You Give It

We talk about feedback often. After all, it’s a critical part of management, team cohesion, and leadership. Feedback and communication are critical skills for managers, leaders, and employees all throughout the organization. In fact, it’s one of the common leadership skills you must master to be successful.

But there's one thing we don't often think about: It takes courage and consideration to give feedback, but how we receive feedback or how we process feedback can have an even bigger impact on our future potential.

I thought we’d looked at it from every angle:

But what about how we receive feedback, not just how we give it?

What Should You Know About Receiving and Processing Feedback?

Asking for feedback from others or receiving it when someone else brings you feedback is a way of holding up a mirror to help you understand the impact you have on those around you. It can speed up your growth. It helps you provide your team better support. Responding positively to feedback creates a virtuous cycle.

If you resist, defend, or make others feel you aren’t interested in their perspective or open to their thoughts, you’ll start to build a reputation as a closed-off leader. It’s like putting yourself in a box and shutting one flap at a time until you are surrounded by darkness and the only person left talking to you will be you. Your self-awareness will decrease because no one is comfortable sharing what they really think.

That’s the opposite of what we need in today’s day and age, when outside perspective, influence, and collaboration are incredibly valuable methods to understand and solve for today’s business challenges.

Ways We Justify, Rationalize, or Ignore Feedback

This article from Harvard Business Review summarizes 13 ways that leaders commonly reject feedback, instead of accepting and processing the feedback. From playing the victim, plain denial, and avoidance to negating, invalidating, or blaming, these methods are all ways of shutting ourselves off from others.

How can you challenge your self-talk to better receive constructive feedback?

Another helpful perspective is the idea of processing feedback with a strainer, not a sponge. Check out this Ted Talk by Shanita Williams on processing feedback for more:


Don't Forget to Take the Bad With the Good

On a last note, watch out for our all too real tendency to avoid negative/corrective feedback. Leadership experts Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, co-authors of The Leadership Challenge, put it succinctly:

"There is simply no way to get around the fact that you can't grow as a leader without getting feedback. Researchers have found that people who seek out disconfirming feedback, (contrary to their self-perceptions) perform better . . . than those who only listened to people who see their positive qualities. Being aware of your weaknesses and shortcomings . . . whether you like it or not, is critical to improvement."

**The Leadership Challenge, 6th ed.

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Download an Overview of The Leadership Challenge

Bill Mugavin

Bill Mugavin is a Senior Leadership Development Consultant at FlashPoint. He has worked with top-tier Fortune 1000 global organizations to improve leadership and management effectiveness.