Becoming a Better Leader: It’s all in the follow-up
The most successful leaders are aware of their impact. After all, leadership is about influencing people. To be effective you need to know how you are perceived by others.
In the leadership training I do, it’s common to use a 360-degree survey. This is a popular on-the-job appraisal tool that involves gathering performance ratings from a circle of people who work closely with the leader….peers, subordinates and superiors. In some cases external sources such as patients or customers as well as vendors might be included. The results from 360-degree feedback are used by the person receiving the feedback to plan their development. A coach is often involved to help interpret the findings - strengths and weaknesses - and to identify necessary changes.
The exercise of receiving formal feedback is invaluable. Most Fortune 500 companies use 360 reviews to enhance leadership development and organizational success. However, you don’t need a formal survey to become a better leader in your practice.
In my last article I talked about the importance of doing your own “performance review” through a process called feedforward.This is focused on sharing constructive, future oriented suggestions. Because the goal is to solicit positive suggestions, employees are more likely to give you ideas on how you can be a “better boss”.
So let’s say you’ve started the process -you’ve gathered information from your staff. You’ve thanked them without debating, arguing, defending yourself. You’ve taken notes.
If you’re an exceptional leader, you’ve also acknowledged any wrongdoings. The most powerful words a leader can ever learn to say might simply be “I'm sorry”...to accept responsibility and promise to do better.
Caution: What you do from this point on will make-or-break the process.
Having been in the business of helping people to change behavior for the past 25 years, I know that the process may be simple, but it is far from easy. And unfortunately, the fact that you’ve been successful will be one of your biggest obstacles. Research shows that you will tend to reject or deny feedback from others that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself. It’s hard to admit that you need to modify your behavior. How can you achieve positive change?
Let’s say your feedforward theme clearly identified your need to become a better listener. You’ve heard this before. Perhaps you have a life-long ‘bad habit’ of interrupting. Once you’ve decided on ‘listening’ as a goal, go back to your staff and say,
“I am working on becoming a better listener. Can you give me two positive suggestions on how I can do this?”
Another way to solicit specific ideas is to ask your employees: “What are two positive things you have noticed that good listeners do?” Choose one action that you will take…one thing you will do differently. And as the Nike slogan said, ‘Just do it!’.
Involve your employees consistently. After a week or two, ask them again, ‘What are some ways I can be a better listener?’ Be aware that when they provide suggestions your first reaction may be to think they are ‘wrong’ or ‘confused’. We all want to hear what we want to hear. Our belief in ourselves helps us become successful. It can also make it very hard for us to change.
Recruit your employees to help you to become a better leader. Be consistent in asking them for ideas and suggestions. Remind them that you are trying really hard. Remember that they are likely to be suspicious at first, doubting your efforts as just one more ‘new thing’ that will fall by the wayside in a couple of weeks. Don’t backslide on your promise to improve yourself. By following up on the suggestions you receive, you demonstrate your commitment to grow. You also set the standard for your office – that growth and self-improvement are important for everyone. By using the feedforward process, you shape your office culture into one of trust and accountability. And those are the very cornerstones of a successful, profitable dental practice.
Dr. Haller is available to help you solicit feedback from your staff. Contact her at email@example.com.
Interested in becoming a better leader? Contact Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here
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