These Leading Thoughts are all about your growth as a leader, so I want to make an assignment that will energize that growth. In fact, it’s a type of assignment I’ve seen lead to stunning change in leaders I’ve known, often taking them to new heights in a relatively short period of time.
Here is what I want you to do: between now and the end of July, I want you to ask questions of people you can trust to tell you the truth. These questions will be about you. I’d like for you to choose people who don’t work for you, and I’d like for you to risk asking folks who are insightful but who also aren’t afraid of you and can be blunt in their answers.
The reality is that most leaders live in a bit of a bubble. It is a bubble made of their own perceptions. They usually don’t get risky feedback, don’t put themselves in a position to receive perhaps uncomfortable input about themselves. Without meaning to, as they’ve risen in their fields, they’ve become isolated. No one will tell them the hard facts. No one is willing to risk the loss of favor or position or friendship to say the tough things. Yet leaders need constant, wise, courageous feedback in order to improve. Otherwise, they are left largely with compliments and their own perceptions to guide them. These won’t serve them well.
So, I’m asking you to pop the bubble that may exist around you. Ask some questions. Get some feedback. Ask some friends or family members or colleagues in your field to tell you the truth about yourself. Tell them to risk hurting you, but challenge them to give you nothing but the unvarnished truth.
I know this may sound terrifying, but if you do this you will start to change. Even as early as July, you will be a better leader if you listen, take this feedback to heart, and put plans in place to conquer what you must to be your best.
Here are the questions. You can ask each question of as many people as you like, but at least get strong feedback from one person per question.
What is my greatest weakness?
If you could remove one habit or tendency of mine in order to help me lead better, what would it be?
What is most off-putting about me?
What about me is most likely to cause me to fail?
What is something I like about myself that isn’t serving me well as a leader?
When you’ve seen me anger or hurt people, what was it I did that caused it?
What one aspect of my appearance needs to change?
What do I believe about myself that is not true?
When you’ve seen people shrink away from me, what about me caused this?
If there is one thing I need to start doing in order to be a better leader, what is it?
Now be bold with this. Ask that sister who isn’t your biggest fan or that former team member who knows you well but decided to leave. Yes, ask your spouse. None of these answers will kill you but all of them could make you better.
I’m proud of you for taking this on. Better days and greater leadership are on the horizon for you.