Note: A version of this was previously published on Forbes.
Collaboration and teamwork are essential to the success of today’s companies. While these have always been important, modern businesses have more integrated strategies that demand leaders to work across departments, functions, and business units to achieve successful outcomes. However, many leaders struggle to work collaboratively, remaining stuck in silos or fighting with colleagues. Building relationships with peers is crucial to success, and knowing where you stand with them is equally important.
Consider the peers with whom you work most frequently. How do they perceive you? Do they trust you? Have you built your credibility with them? Do they value your leadership? These questions may be a mystery or a guess, but they need not be. There are strategies to help you gain feedback from peers that can determine your strengths, blind spots, and areas for improvement.
Start by defining the peers from whom you want to solicit feedback. Consider a variety of people with whom you work, such as peers, colleagues, customers, key stakeholders, your manager, or some of your direct reports. Ensure that you will get a balanced set of perspectives. In other words, don’t just pick peers who are part of your fan club.
Reach out to set up a meeting. Request a 15 to 20-minute meeting during which you can ask a few questions to determine your value and impact as a leader. Through this process, you can learn whether their answers align with your personal vision of the value and impact you wish to have. Send the questions beforehand so they can prepare for the conversation. Here are six questions you can share with your peers.
- What primary value do I provide as a leader?
- What impact does my value have on you? On the community of leaders? On the organization
- What are my unique strengths as a leader?
- Where do I need to be stronger to have even greater impact?
- What blind spots may be getting in my way?
- What is one consistent action that I take to have even greater value as a leader and live up to my core obligation?
Conduct the interviews. During the interviews, remain open to feedback. Even if you hear something you might not fully agree with, attempt to remain calm. Generally, the feedback you receive is typically candid, direct, and extremely insightful, rather than guessing what your key stakeholders value about you; find out directly. The mere act of asking shows that you are an accountable leader committed to living up to your core leadership obligations. Make sure you thank your colleague for their time and support.
Summarize the key themes and identify the top three themes for each question. Review the summary of themes and determine the strengths on which you will focus, then identify one or two areas that need attention.
Go back to validate your impact. After some time has passed, you might also consider going back to your colleagues to see how you are doing. Did they notice a change in your behavior? Did suggested areas for improvement get addressed?
Soliciting feedback from peers takes courage, but it is a rewarding exercise that can help validate your strengths, provide insights into potential blind spots, and pinpoint a few areas for targeted development. You will also find that asking a peer for feedback immediately strengthens that relationship. Are you ready to take on the challenge?
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