Ignorance may be bliss, but it’s deadly to leadership effectiveness. And it’s often the mark of a blind and weak leader.
Feedback-impaired leaders often mistake compliance for commitment. They might, for example, proclaim an open door policy and when no one enters their office to raise problems, believe there aren’t any serious issues to be addressed. Or when their strong position and lack of approachability shuts down any serious debate on a key meeting topic, they’ll take that as agreement and push ahead. Later they’re puzzled by lack of follow through.
Not checking blind spots can lead to deadly highway accidents. Leaders who don’t seek feedback often develop deadly blind spots. And when the crash happens he or she is taken by surprise. “Why didn’t anyone tell me about this sooner?”
Correlation studies drawing on Zenger Folkman’s extensive 360 database shows the dramatic impact of a leader’s inclination to ask for feedback and their leadership effectiveness. The blindest leaders who actively discourage feedback may be blissful in their ignorance — and highly ineffective. Their counterparts at the opposite end of the feedback spectrum — with their eyes and ears wide open — over four times more effective.
In his Forbes column, “Top Ranked Leaders Know This Secret: Ask For Feedback“, Joe Folkman reports, “there is power in asking others for feedback. Asking not only empowers employees to feel their opinions matter, but it also empowers leaders to know where they need to improve.”