Inviting Feedback

January 9, 2014

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One of the podcasts I listen to regularly is the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast. These are short, powerful talks which I apply to my leadership often

Recently they did a two-part series of the “Art of Inviting Feedback”. Andy interviewed Clay Scroggins, who is the constantly doing this in the North Point organization.

The question which was posed for leaders to consider asking their followers is, “If you were me, what would you do differently?”

This is based on the premise that everyone has an opinion about everything we do as leaders. If we don’t invite this into the process, we are unable to benefit from all these opinions.

I did this.

I’ve recently handed over leadership of my team, so I asked all my people what they would have done differently.

I received some great feedback I would not have gotten without asking. It really provided me some insight into where people were at as well.

This is a simple principle which makes so much sense.

But why is it so hard for us to do? 

Here are 4 reasons we might hesitate: (taken from the podcast)

1. Insecurity. We are have an area in our lives which we are afraid to hear potentially negative feedback on.

2. Identity. Many times we don’t want feedback in an area we draw our identity from. Someone who criticizes who we are is not often a welcome voice. Knowing this is a huge piece of self-awareness for a leader. Knowing it can help us overcome and eventually hear the feedback which can make us even better in these areas.

Scroggins says, “a mature, secure person, walking in humility should be able to ask anyone, anything.”

3. Intimidation. People might not want to say things which are hard or even constructive to our bosses or leaders. So we must invite it. Give people permission to voice their opinion.

4. Indifference. Sometimes we really do not want to hear the feedback, or perhaps, we are not willing to hear it for fear of the work it will cause us. This can be subtle, but we must be aware of it.

We may be sitting here with many reasons why this is not worth our time.

– People don’t have the full picture. (I see things better)
– I’ve learned that what they think we should do, does not work. (I know better)
– Won’t this invite people to become negative and complain all the time? (I don’t trust them with this freedom)

Do we see our excuses are often rooted in insecurity, or worse pride?

This does not mean that everything someone says or thinks is true or even reflective of the whole picture. But we lose as leaders when we discount the voices before we even hear them. 

We must be willing to hear things. Sure we will filter things out or take it “with a grain of salt.”

But we may actually hear something that completely changes everything.

It takes a secure leader to do this. But, no one wants to be an insecure leader right?

So let’s do it.

Gracious leaders invite and initiate feedback.

It is the invitation from us which takes away much of the dreaded awkwardness from the one who brings feedback and the resistance from us.

We want to listen to those whom we work with.

What do you think? How do you engage in the art of inviting feedback?

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God