Ron Ashkenas wrote a great blog for Harvard Business Review in 2012 in which he outlines a seemingly obvious fact: Don't Ask for Feedback Unless You Want It. His perfectly titled article highlights the obvious blunders other leaders make by asking for others’ comments, input, or feedback, yet being irritated when they receive it. The hypocrisy of their actions is blatant. But what I most appreciate about Ashkenas’ article is his honesty in stating, “These behaviors, by the way, are much easier to see in other people than in ourselves.” Oops.
I say oops, because I know there have been many a time when I’d prefer to just plow ahead with what I believe to be the best solution and ignore the questions and suggestions of others. However, I’m hoping I’m getting better. It’s been an intentional skill I've worked to hone over the years. Having studied and taught critical listening, I intentionally try to not “click-off” others and mentally shift gears when they start questioning or suggesting things I don't believe relevant or correct. I, at times, force myself to remain poker faced and listen to the input of others, because I've found that more often than not, their insights often add to, affirm, or rightly challenge a plan.
As an example, having just completed a series of board meetings for a national association for which I’m the Strategic Planning Committee Chair, I had to sit back and measure myself against Ashkenas’ insights. How did I accept comments, questions, requested changes, or challenges to the plans I'd just presented? How open was I to others’ suggestions? How easy did I make it for others to feel a part of the plans because they were able to understand them, question them, and enhance them? I’m hoping I helped them understand they are the owners of the plans, not me or the committee. I'm hoping they understand the plans intimately and see the value they bring our members.
All in all, I believe I did because their questions and suggestions helped make the plans even stronger. Without their input, the plans would have been good. With their input, the plans are going to take our members where they want to go. All because, we asked for input…and we got it.
Copyright MMXIV Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC.