It’s not always easy to hear the truth – especially when it’s about ourselves…and our shortcomings. But if you’re serious about becoming a better leader try this exercise out.
Find one of your direct reports.
If you’re new at this whole “I’m going to work on my leadership skills by being vulnerable and completely open to hearing things that might hurt” thing then pick someone you already have a good relationship with.
Bring them to coffee.
Make sure they know that the meeting is for you to learn more about yourself so they aren’t shakin’ in their boots thinking they’re going to lose their job because they have a meeting with the Boss (Wo)Man.
Ask them for feedback.
By asking them the following question:
What is one thing I can do differently to be a better leader?
It might take some finesse, some tweaking of the question, etc but you get the point, right? Follow it up by asking for examples of times where this ‘new thing’ would have been helpful for that employee.
Start a conversation, ask for more feedback, and listen. Don’t feel like you have to defend yourself, just absorb the information being shared with you.
Send that person a note thanking them for their time and their honesty. Invite them to coffee again a few weeks later to see if they have noticed a difference. Continue the conversation and continue building the relationship.
Marisa is a leadership coach, management trainer, and motivational speaker on all things Culture and Engagement. She has helped lead the culture and engagement initiatives at two nationally recognized great places to work; Rackspace as Culture Maven and Modea as Talent Manger. Today Marisa consults, coaches, and leads seminars for organizations looking to increase productivity by focusing on management training and employee engagement.