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Don't Get Blindsided, Utilize The Power of Feedback



I think most people would agree. Self-awareness is an important part of leadership.

Most leaders think they are pretty self-aware.

Interestingly enough, research over the years shows that often leaders are not.

The Outlier: The Leader

In a recent study referenced in Fast Company article, they found that when there was a 360 taken on a leader, (feedback gathered from the boss, direct reports and peers) those giving the feedback identified the same themes both related to strengths and weaknesses.

The outlier…the leader themselves, meaning the leader was the only one who didn’t see it that way.

Now, as leader receiving the feedback, you might be thinking:

  • People just don’t get me.

  • I’m an introvert so they don’t understand.

  • Of course, I don’t let people really know me.

However, any way you look at it, if everyone else is saying the same thing except you, maybe there’s something to it!

Self-Awareness is Evasive

Truth is – self-awareness isn’t easy!

But why is self-awareness so hard? Frankly, it is not just a leadership issue. All of us struggle when it comes to seeing ourselves accurately

.In some situations we are missing our warts and blind spots. In other situations, we don’t recognize our potential because we aren’t fully showing up, meaning sharing what we think, feel, and want in order to make the discovery.

Bottom-line: The only path for getting better at self-awareness must include regular feedback. The key is that we have to ask for it on a consistent basis, and from people in various circles around us. Those whom we work with closely, those whom only interact when things are challenging, people at work, and people at home.

Joe & HarryIn

1955 two men named Joseph Luft (Joe) and Harrington Ingham (Harry), introduced what is commonly known in business circles as the Johari Window. (Yes, Joe & Harry combined!)

Despite the guys’ lack of creativity in naming the model, we think it is an excellent tool for helping you understand the power of feedback.

What is the JoHari Window?

JoHari Window is a model with four-panes. It provides a simple visual for understanding how information (personal ideas, thoughts, feelings and motivations) are seen through the eyes of yourself and other people around you. The window also shows what’s known and unknown, and how to effectively open and close the various areas more consciously.

There are four panes, representing us:

  • ThePublic Self

  • Private Self

  • Blind Self

  • Untapped Potential Self

The vertical axis is related to how much we self-disclose and give feedback.

The horizontal axis is related to how much we ask for and receive feedback.

You Cannot Hide, Despite What You Think

Most of us prefer to decide how much of ourselves we wish to disclose to others, in groups and on teams. However, in truth we cannot hide. People see and hear way more than we imagine.

Especially, if we are leaders! The job of a leader is to be visible by:

  • Speaking up and providing clarity and direction.

  • Revealing (self-disclosing) what you are thinking and wanting from people.

  • Giving feedback to those working for you.

These are regular part of the leader’s job!

Therefore, as a person moves upward in an organization, or on a team, they are naturally out there disclosing more, because they are speaking more, giving feedback. This puts much more of you out there in the public pane. Tip: Anytime you are giving feedback about someone else, you are actually revealing you and how you put your world together.

The key is if you don’t ask for and receive feedback, you develop a bigger and bigger blind spot.

I know it’s not easy hearing straight, honest feedback. I’m not just talking about the difficulty in hearing corrective or negative feedback. Lots of leaders struggle even hearing the positive!

Still, the cost of not getting feedback is HUGE.

Leader’s Common Mistakes

Don’t make these common leader mistakes:

  • Assume your people are giving you their feedback because, you say, “I have an open door – people can say anything to me.”

  • Thinking once a year is good enough.

  • Believing that the Smart side of your job is more important than building a Healthy team.

Avoid Being Blindsided

In order to make sure you are getting the feedback you need, try these tips:

  • Make sure you ask for specific You may even need to “prime the pump,” meaning saying something like, “Hey, I may have been too abrupt in our meeting today. I want to know what you think.”

  • You would do better to get regular weekly, monthly, quarterly feedback. If you wait an entire year you just may be blind-sided, by your own blind spots, having a significant career impact.

  • Leadership is much more about influencing people than having the “right” Be sure to focus on the healthy side. Remember, the people closest to you are the best ones to help you.

If I Could Talk To Joe and Harry

My feedback to you, Joe and Harry, is that you came up with a brilliant model, but you need some help with the model naming process.


CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

Check out their website: www.thriveinc.com. Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.



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