This week’s Take Action topic might be a difficult one to address. I know it always is for me. So here goes…
A couple of years ago, I was working as the director of marketing for a San Francisco-based startup with an office here in Mesa. At the same time, I was participating in a year-long sales leadership program. The program challenged me weekly to step outside my comfort zone. One of those ways was to reconsider the way I saw myself. A couple of weeks into the program, I decided to get courageous and ask my boss, the chief marketing and operations officer, where she thought I could do better in the role for which she had hired me. I expected her to tell me I was doing great.
Instead, she told me I wasn’t thinking big enough or strategically enough. I was shocked.
Asking for such feedback is highly uncomfortable. Not only does it require us to be vulnerable by asking, it also means we must be willing to hear whatever they have to say. And we need to be ready to do something about it. Finding out that we’re micromanaging our teams, delivering mixed messages to our customers, or creating communication barriers with our investors are all great things to know as early as possible. However, when others point these issues out, their input is not always welcome. It’s easy to dismiss their comments as “it’s you, and not me”.
As entrepreneurs, we are often overachievers. We have it in our heads that we need to be infallible. This is a fallacy that will impede your success. Get over it! The more space you create for personal growth and development the better chance your company has of growing beyond you.
Here are three ways you can ask for much needed feedback so you (and your company) can grow:
We regularly request feedback from our advisors and mentors about how they think our clients are doing and where they think they need help. We also have our own observations and suggestions. But, this information is best shared when you ask for it. It means you’re open to listening, and that means you’re in the best position to hear it and do something with the information.
Ask your team.
This is not only a powerful tool in helping you step further into your leadership role, it sets an excellent precedent for your team. It means you know you’re human and willing to ask for help; you’re creating a culture of mutual support and improvement.
Ask yourself. And be honest.
Where are you struggling? What areas are you avoiding, stressing over or obsessing about? Do you need help, input, feedback? Challenge yourself, and ask yourself why you may not be willing to reach out for assistance be it from your team or from our team? There is often a hidden story and, many times, a hidden obstacle that may derail you and your business. Uncovering it and addressing it removes the power it has over you, so you and your business can move forward.
I look forward to seeing you over here at ASU Chandler Innovation Center soon!