Last week I wrote a post called, “Don’t You Want to Get Better?” In it, I talked about people who don’t want their superiors or their peers to evaluate or critique them on the performance of whatever it is they do.
I talked about how these people miss out on a golden opportunity to improve and become the best they are capable of becoming, oftentimes, because they feel they can do no wrong.
Well, today, I’m going to follow up on that concept and really stretch some of you who struggle with it.
Why not ask for help from the people you lead?
“What?!?!” some of you might be thinking. (Especially the some of you who can’t let anyone know that you’re not perfect, or you make mistakes, or you are ever wrong.)
So many of you not only would never do this, but you wouldn’t ever even consider doing it.
You’re too afraid of showing vulnerability.
You’re too afraid of showing weakness.
You’re too afraid of showing that you’re not perfect.
Ultimately, though, you’re just too afraid.
Get Over Yourself
It’s time to push past your fear and grow into a new you.
One way to do that is to ask the people you are leading for some guidance on what you can do better to help them be better.
After all, isn’t that what you want—for your people to improve and get better?
Well then, why not ask them for help by telling you some things you can do to help do that for them?
Ask them to evaluate you.
Create an evaluation tool that you can give to them that asks them some questions about the job you are doing. Do this around a midpoint in your time together—mid-season, end of a quarter/semester, or some other type of midpoint.
Make sure the questions will elicit the kinds of responses that you need to hear. Don’t worry about asking questions that might prompt answers that could ruffle your feathers a bit. This is exactly what you want.
How are you going to grow and develop if you don’t get out of your own comfort zone? (Check out my video on the value of discomfort coming out in the next few weeks over on the SlamDunk Success YouTube Channel!)
Ask the Right Questions
So what questions should you ask the people you lead that will help you learn where you need to grow and develop to help them be better?
My first response to that question is, “I don’t know.” Only you can know for sure what specific questions will elicit the kind of information to be your best for them in whatever realm you lead them.
However, here are a few questions that I think can be beneficial to all of us, no matter what leadership capacity we are in. (Make sure you create an evaluation tool where your people can answer these anonymously.)
- Where can I get better at helping you do your best?
- What subjects/topics/strategies/skills would you like more help with?
- What have I done well that you have connected with and that you feel has helped you?
- What do I do as a leader that you appreciate most?
- Where are my “blind spots” where I need some help to become better?
- Do you trust me?
- Do you feel I help you?
- Do you feel I treat you fairly?
- Do you feel I treat others fairly?
- Do you feel I value you as a member of this organization/team?
- Do you feel encouraged by me?
- Do I inspire/motivate you to be better? Do I do that in a way that is positive or negative?
- Do you consider me a positive leader, negative leader, or not a leader at all?
- How would you describe me as a leader if you were talking to someone else about me?
- Do you feel I have the team’s and your best interests at heart? What makes you feel that way?
- Would you be willing to meet with me to talk about your answers, or are you concerned that I might retaliate against you in some way?
These are certainly not the only questions you could ask that would elicit some strong feedback to help you be your best, but they are definitely a start.
They are also questions that could create difficulty for you in having to deal with the answers they prompt from your people. But, again, how are you going to grow and develop to be your best if you don’t know how your people feel about the job you are doing?
Toughen Up, Buttercup!
Some of you may have read those questions and thought, “There is no way I’m asking my people those questions.”
Afraid of what they might say?
Afraid that they’ll tell you the truth?
Afraid that you won’t like what you hear?
Afraid you’ll find out you’re not perfect?
If you’re afraid of those things, YOU NEED TO DO THIS EXERCISE MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE!
Get over yourself and figure out that you’re not doing your class, team, or organization any good by just hiding behind your mask that you are perfect, and you know what’s best, and your people don’t have a clue or don’t understand, or that they can’t help you.
A few weeks ago, I heard Steve Keim, the General Manager for the Arizona Cardinals, say a great quote: “The only way you grow as a person or a leader is to self-evaluate, and it’s humbling.”
Well, let me add to that idea that the only way to truly self-evaluate is to ask others to evaluate you. You wanna’ talk about humbling. That is the very definition of humbling!
Because if you only evaluate yourself and you never ask others to evaluate you, your evaluation is distorted by the subjective nature of your own feelings and your own perspective of yourself.
However, your people’s perspective on you is much more objective.
So, ask them for it.
And then listen to them.
When it comes to how you lead them, they know what they’re talking about.
And they probably know it a whole lot better than you do.