Stop Fearing Feedback and Start Growing

As a leader, feedback is essential.  

It tells us what makes us effective, unique, and compelling, so that we can continue to grow in those areas.  It also makes us aware of behaviors and attitudes that detract from our leadership effectiveness, so that we can open them up to examination and, if we’re willing, change.

Seeking out feedback is also a vulnerable, courageous act.  And so often, we let our fears take over and block us from getting feedback that is meaningful and useful.

So what do you do about it?

Check out my 1-2 punch that will help you to you overcome your fear and seek out feedback that will help you to grow and develop as a leader.

1.  Expect that your ego will try to hijack the feedback process 

Feedback.

As you say the word to yourself, what do you notice?  Go ahead, read it again…

Maybe a little tension?  Anxiety?  Insecurity?  Fear?  Nausea?

Yup, that’s your ego talking.  Feedback is your ego’s worst enemy, because it has the potential to illuminate your true self and deconstruct the false self-identity the ego has created.  So, that ego of yours is going to do everything to try to hijack the feedback process.

How do you know your ego has taken over?  Here are some telltale signs:

  • You continue to feel anxious, fearful, or sick to your stomach
  • You are completely resistant to feedback, and you have convinced yourself that seeking out feedback would be pointless/too hard/too painful
  • When you receive feedback, your tendency is to blame and deny: “Who would say that about me??  I don’t do that!”
  • You give all of your energy to the constructive (you will call it negative) feedback, and you begin to feel guilty, unworthy, and ashamed
  • If you notice any of the above, great!!  That’s the first step – recognizing your ego is in the driver’s seat.  It also means you’re human and completely normal, so resist that urge to judge or get down on yourself (that will only reinforce your ego).

2.  Try one of these tactics to release your ego’s grip

Now that you know how to spot your ego, also know that you have the ability to shake it.

Try out one of these tactics to release your ego and connect to the part of yourself that will be more open, confident, and creative throughout the feedback process.

Be willing to laugh at it!  Take some time to analyze your fear, and you will likely realize that your ego has twisted some insane story to make you feel irrationally, even deathly, fearful of feedback.  How crazy is your ego’s story?  Maybe you think that if you get feedback nobody will like you, or you’ll lose your job, or you’ll realize how stupid/ugly/ineffective/useless you really are?  Call up a friend, talk it through, and laugh at how silly your fear-based story is!

Remind yourself why it’s worth seeking out feedback.  Because you are a leader.  Because you are committed to learning and growing.  Because there are lots of things that make you unique and brilliant, and you want to know what those are.  Because the only way to truly understand the impact you’re having on people (intended and unintended), is to ask.  Feedback is a means to an end, and the goal is for you to become a more effective and fulfilled leader.  That sounds worth it to me.

Breathe. And Breathe again.  Know that your ego is a tricky son of a gun, and he’s going to keep trying to take control of the feedback process. Whenever you notice fear, anxiety, self-doubt creeping in, just acknowledge it and breathe.  Your breath will help to calm you, release the emotional reaction, and return you to a more grounded, open, and powerful place.

Now that you’re down with the 1-2 punch, I would love to hear from you.

Which specific tactic from today’s blog will help you overcome your fear and seek out useful, meaningful feedback?

And if you’re up for a challenge, I’ve got one for you!  Over the next week, ask 3 people who care about you, for feedback.  Ask them: When I’m at my best, what strengths do I demonstrate?  What would you like to see more of from me as a leader?  And anything else your curious about!

And for bonus points, let us know what you find out in the comments section below.

As always, thank you so much for reading and sharing!

Best,
Jen