Every good leader knows that employees grow when they receive constructive feedback. Studies show that regular feedback from a trusted leader helps boosts employee engagement and retention.
What might not be so obvious, however, is that employee-to-leader feedback can help a leader grow. In fact, Gallup reports that managers who receive strengths feedback are more profitable than those who don’t.
It comes down to cultivating a culture of communication in the workplace. If leaders are transparent and authentic, employees will feel safe enough to offer their honest feedback.
This two-way conversational exchange is just as valuable to leaders as it is to employees.
As a former marketing executive—and now as Co-founder and CEO of Romp n’ Roll—I have overseen many employees. I can honestly say I’ve grown more from candid communications I’ve had with them than from professional seminars and workshops.
Here are just some of the ways listening to employees has helped me improve as a leader:
Every leader has their own style. They cultivate techniques and processes for reaching the goals they set for their organization.
Early on in my career, I discovered that blazing a path for success was not a solo expedition. I realized my most important job as a leader was to clear the way for other team members to advance.
I also learned that every team member is different, and there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to motivating and mentoring.
By asking for feedback from employees, I was able to find out what I was doing (specifically) that helped them. They were able to also share things that, perhaps, they wanted more from me—or not at all.
This practice has helped me become a far better listener, and ultimately, a better leader.
By staying open and really listening, I’m able to give employees what they need to realize their full potential.
In a recent Forbes article, “Endless Curiosity” was listed as one of the strengths to make you a better leader.
The day you think you know it all is the day you stop growing. You can always improve and learn—both personally and professionally.
I couldn’t agree more.
I practice my commitment to continuous improvement and knowledge in various ways. One of them is asking trusted employees pointed questions about certain aspects of my performance.
Their insight has been a real eye-opener, at times. And, although it hasn’t always been easy to hear, I value their feedback tremendously. I have been able to identify and take actionable steps to capitalize on strengths, while bettering areas needing improvement.
“Do as I say, not as I do.”
This idiom has always been hollow and ineffective—whether it is spoken or inferred.
Leaders are also role models. You will see the behavior you display copied throughout the workplace—like it or not.
Leading by example is an essential skill for leaders to master. Your open attitude towards receiving—and implementing change—based on feedback will inspire your employees to do the same.
I am not perfect. Just ask Romp n’ Roll’s Co-founder, Babz Barnett, who is also my wife—she will agree!
I need some perspective, at times, regarding what I am doing to make sure it is effective. It doesn’t really matter what my intention is. If my technique is not getting the results I want, it’s my responsibility as a leader to find out why.
Sometimes, open dialogue with an employee will help me pinpoint the problem. I have discovered that employee input can often help me focus my aim to help us all hit the mark.
You will definitely grow as leader by asking employees their ideas and opinions, and then putting the best into action.
Yet, you’ll do even more than that. You will inspire your team to grow: improve skills, be more engaged, invested and, ultimately, productive.
Isn’t that what being a successful leader is all about?
Michael Barnett is the Co-Founder and CEO of Romp n’ Roll, and leads its management team. He is an active member of the International Franchise Association, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Additionally, Michael serves on the Board of Directors for Connor’s Heroes and Juniata College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. He and his wife, Babz, were featured on the first season of ABC-TV’s “Shark Tank“.