Feedback is a gift, and it isn’t always friendly. I have talked with some leaders recently who are getting some tough feedback from their teams. They don’t necessarily like what they are hearing, but they know that they need to hear it so they can grow and improve. We all know we’re supposed to say we want feedback, but the truth is very few of us really enjoy getting it.


The problem with individuals that say they are open to receiving feedback but then show by their frustration, defensiveness, and lack of humility that they don’t like it, is that eventually – they may stop getting it.

Provide your team, your family, and your friends opportunities to speak the truth. Give them situations and a safe place to share the version of you that they see. Most of us are willing to share 90% of the truth. The first 90% is easy. It is the last 10% that is hard to give and hard to receive. I learned this 90/10 rule from a good friend and fellow leader. Several times a month he pauses, looks me in the eye and says “Will you give me the last 10%?” This is an act of humility and courage. Asking for the last 10% is not easy, but it is critical.

“If you keep showing people that you don’t appreciate their feedback and aren’t willing to do something with it, you will eventually stop getting it. It is much worse to stop getting feedback than to keep hearing things you may not like.”

So if feedback is such a gift, why do we struggle with receiving it?

  1. I don’t want to pay the price to grow and improve.

If we are to get better it usually comes at a cost. Growth results in doing hard things, making tough decisions and admitting that I don’t have it all figured out.

  1. I can’t separate your feedback about how I can improve from your image of me overall.

Only people that are invested give feedback. You must separate their feedback from how they see you. Not everyone who has difficult feedback for you is against you. Actually, that rarely is the case. Understand they care and desire for you to improve or they wouldn’t be sharing.

  1. You are wrong/I don’t value your opinion.

Feedback is just that. It isn’t the truth (necessarily). Even if someone’s feedback is wrong, it is worth listening to as it presents their perspective of the situation. Listen, hear, and find meaning in what they are sharing. It is easy to discredit someone because they aren’t close to the situation or their area of expertise is in something completely different. Don’t discredit their perspective.

  1. I am the one who gives feedback…not receives it.

Sure you are. Let us know how that is working out for you. Better yet, let us ask your team how it is working for them.

  1. We don’t have the relationship currency to be real with one another.

Relationship currency is built one experience at a time AND you must give others the benefit of the doubt before they have earned the currency. Someone has to model this. If not you, then who?

A great indicator whether you are truly open to feedback is not whether you receive it but rather how often you ask for it.

You should choose your own set of questions to find out how you are doing. Who are the key stakeholders in your personal life? Go to them and ask how you are doing. Explore some of these questions personally. Be intentional and be willing to live the life true to yourself, not the life others expect.

Use the STOP, START, and CONTINUE method. Go to your team and set up 1:1 meetings with each person. Ask them to share 1 thing that they want you to STOP doing, START doing and CONTINUE doing. Listen to what they are saying and HEAR what they are sharing.

As you collect this information from everyone on your team, see what themes emerge. Be willing to evaluate your strengths and your weaknesses from within this feedback. Report back to your team what you learned and most importantly, what you are going to do about it.

Other questions that will help you get feedback from others: {these are work related but you can change a few words to apply to your personal life or other relationships}

  • In our relationship right now, what is going well?
  • In our relationship right now, what is not going well?
  • What one thing would make things better for you at work?
  • How do you best feel loved or appreciated by me?
  • What would you say are my greatest strengths?
  • What do I do that brings the greatest value to you?
  • What do I do that is frustrating or takes value away from you?
  • If you were me, what would you do?
  • What am I not considering right now?

Lead well, Lead often, LEAD STRONG.