The Trouble with Feedback is...
When you ask for it, you might actually get it.
I run executive peer groups for a living. Let me tell you, it is no small feat getting a group of extremely busy CEOs from all different companies in the same room together at the same time. When it happens, the result is nothing short of amazing. Being able to witness that level of creativity coming together to tackle whatever hurdles are racing toward their respective companies every month is awe inspiring! But what I tell everyone is that this process is definitely not for the faint of heart. Because in that room you will find one thing that is not always easy to swallow... Brutally Honest Feedback!
Think about it. At the executive level, most of us only hear feedback from people who are paid to give it to us. And whether you believe that this influences the authenticity of the message or not, it is a data point that has to be considered. Even if you have assembled an extremely open team, the people who work inside the company are still the ones standing a foot away from the elephant. When they say that all they see is a grey wall, they are telling the truth, but there is more to the picture than that.
I understand this phenomenon quite well, in theory. My very business model is designed around offering an outside perspective to provide a wider lens with which to view your business. "Everyone should be in a peer group" I say repeatedly, everywhere I go, because I believe that to be absolutely true.
So, what do you think happened when I assembled my own group of trusted advisers and asked them for feedback, on myself? Exactly what you'd expect. They told me! (See picture above of my actual peer group).
When you ask the people who you truly consider to be your respected peers what they think, guess what? They will tell you! Executives aren't always used to hearing those types of answers. Sometimes, it can take a person by surprise. But the beauty of feedback is that your peers give it to you because they want you to succeed, to be the best you can be, and to accomplish your goals in the most efficient way possible. It is a gift, but it takes a special person to be able to receive it accordingly.
So how do you become this kind of enlightened person? When I figure it out, I'll let you know. I'm pretty sure that practice makes perfect, so I will keep asking my group for feedback, and I will be open to it when they give it to me. Having the opportunity to surround yourself with a group of people who truly want to help you grow is something to be grateful for, even if what they are telling you is not always what you were hoping to hear.