We can all agree there are some pretty great things that come with being The Boss – the corner office, more vacation time, having a say in the direction the company is taking.  But there are drawbacks to being in a position of leadership.

It’s a fact of corporate life: the more senior your position, the less real feedback you get.

Leaders rarely get real feedback and when we do, it’s usually of the “Great job! Keep it up!” variety.

While that’s flattering, it’s also usually not the full story.


When faced with this well-meaning but not fully sincere feedback, we have two choices:

1.  Take it at face value and ramp up our delusions about our effectiveness
2.  Accept that I, like everyone, have room for improvement. Therefore I need to commit to getting real, honest evaluations from my team

So why don’t we do it more frequently? Bottom-line:  it’s scary for our egos. I’ve had my own 360 evaluations and I know how hard it can be to hear the brutal honest feedback. That said, the most professional growth I’ve ever made was a direct result of those painfully honest insights.

To prepare my clients for their 360 evaluations, I remind them that our colleagues already have opinions about our leadership. Those opinions are affecting our relationships whether we know it or not. Wouldn’t you rather know so you can do something about it?


How do you get authentic feedback?

1.  Tell your team why you want their feedback
What is it about your leadership that you want to work on? How will their observations help you? What changes are you hoping to make?

If people believe you sincerely want to improve, they’re more likely to give you the full scoop. Showing some humility by sharing why their feedback is important helps grease the wheels. When your team understands what you’re going to do with their feedback, they feel safer and can buy into these changes. If it’s not clear what you’re doing, they might not take the time to share their insights or they’ll worry that their negative feedback will harm the relationship.

2.  Don’t just say “How did I do?”
When you ask a simple question, you get a simple answer. Ask your team open-ended questions or questions that address a specific aspect of your work together. Encourage them to share both positive and negative feedback. Specifically ask them to provide critiques or you are likely not to hear the most important stuff.

What worked well? What didn’t work? What do you wish I would have done differently? What could I do differently in the future?

3.  Work with a professional on a 360 assessment
At least once a year, bring in the professionals to get the real scoop. (Of course, we’d love to help.) As an objective outsider, a top leadership coach helps your team open up while still feeling safe. They’re also trained to ask shrewd, smart questions that lead to big epiphanies. They will be able to interpret your team’s responses, help you focus on big themes, and let go of the small things. Then, of course, they help you truly shift to a higher leadership performance.

Honest feedback might be hard to hear, but it’s an absolute necessity if you want to grow your business. Click here to find out more about leadership and team assessments that generate transformative shifts in leader effectiveness.