He who knows his enemy and himself well will not be defeated easily. He, who knows himself but not his enemy, will have an even chance of victory. He, who does not know himself….., is bound to suffer defeat in all battles – Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”
Though the quote above was written in the context of how to be strategic when waging war on one’s enemy, it has a broader meaning that is more applicable to everyone, which is, simply, SELF AWARENESS. Self-awareness is often the most over looked strategy in your success formula. In the context of ALL5POINTS, strategy is the basis of each point. How you exercise each point is more important than mastering each point, and the hardest of these to exercise is the one regarding feedback. Feedback is the catalyst of change, without that, you stay the same.
A misguided approach that cripples many, from entry level managers to executives, is the acceptance that “I have made it and have no need for feedback”. In essence, you no longer feel that you have anything to learn, and inevitably you find yourself stalled in a place with no growth opportunities. As a result, your career also ceases to grow. Successful leaders at the top of their game recognize that there is always room for growth, and therefore make it a habit to seek feedback on a regular basis.
In a recent meeting with my leadership team, I took the opportunity to solicit their feedback about what they need from me that they are getting currently, and more importantly, what they need from me that they are not getting. Below are five items they shared with me, along with supporting explanations.
1. Provide more direct feedback – Even though we know our respective areas and don’t want to be micromanaged, getting your direct feedback and helping us with context, can increase our overall level of performance and alignment. We want to support and carry out your vision, but we may not have all the information to do this as effectively as we could.
2. Provide more timely feedback – Don’t let the issue go too far before you say something to put us back on the right track. While we appreciate that you let us learn from our own missteps, we also appreciate when you spare us from the lengthy self taught lessons.
3. Provide appropriate context around your requests – Include what the item will be used for, your audience, and if there is a message you are trying to convey. This allows us to be proactive and less reactive to your requests.
4. Share more information about our business partners – Include what is important to them, their recent top priorities and any pain points they have been verbal about. This way, we can be more effective walking into a situation with them or their teams, all the while carrying out your vision.
5. Stay involved in any major initiatives that we are implementing or supporting. Your support and direction is invaluable to us.
Over the course of my career, I have learned that it is best to be in a continuous state of soliciting feedback about myself. It allows me to stimulate my growth both as an individual and as a leader. It also clues me in on things that I may not have realized are areas where I require work. With effective feedback, I become more of an effective leader. As an effective leader, I have the opportunity to influence my teammates in a positive manner.
Take action: When was the last time you asked your team to provide you with unfiltered feedback? If it has been a while, do so today.
Leadership on the GO…..It’s O.N