Leaders hear a lot of “yes.” How can you get the feedback you need?
Yes is a lovely word. But you don’t always want to hear it. “Yes” can get in the way of “better.”
Every boss finds him on herself surrounded by minions who are going to say “yes,” or “great idea.” But, who is going to say “No,” or “We can do better” when the leader needs to hear it?
Yet feedback is critical. And the leader’s boss might not be:
- Or even at the same level of expertise as the leader
Where, then, does the leader seek feedback?
One great way is through the power of public thinking. Seek public feedback through public forums.
That is, throw it out there, and see what kind of reaction you get.
When I first started thinking about cloud computing, my staff didn’t know anything about it. My boss didn’t know anything about it. Yet, I thought it was really important and wanted
to do the right thing with it. My column with InformationWeek ended up as a valuable proving ground for many ideas.
Not everybody has a forum like that. But everybody can think publicly. It’s not just about the conferences in your field of expertise. Those only come up once or twice a year — not nearly “Internet speed.”
But you can do some public thinking every day through the power of social media. Throw it out there on Twitter, on Facebook, or (cough) Google+. Heck, you could probably even “pin it,” if you’re more of a visual thinker.
Yes, many folks use social media. But most of us are way too reserved when it comes to talking publicly about how to tackle problems that exist within our professions.
It’s like we have a switch: on/off, where “on” means “foolishly grinding an axe about work,” and “off” means “don’t talk about anything work related.” It doesn’t have to be that way. There is middle ground.
Finding that middle ground takes some work. And publicly thinking takes something of a thick skin; not all feedback will be kind, or even well-intentioned.
But public thinking and the resultant feedback is a fantastic way to quickly realize which of your ideas are bad ones, which ones are half baked, and which ones are going to make an impact when followed through.