I personally feel that this is one of the most important factors for deciding your growth curve. You can be executive or a CEO or in Army context, a junior officer or a General. If you can be comfortable facing negative feedback at personal level (your lacunae) or at organization level (shortcoming from organization side which you are representing), I can assure you that sky is the limit in your growth. I am assuming that you are taking negative feedback in the right spirit, rectifying the mistakes as applicable and not chasing the guy out of the organization using your authority.
Let us take the Army context! People are talking about the “Surgical Strike” now a days. Can you imagine the amount of brain storming and practice which must have gone to this operation which was not even a Battalion level operation. All the senior officers must have listened to or taken each and every input and if they make it a point not to listen to any body down the hierarchy, what can be the outcome? In Army, the advantage is that all the officers have to pass through the same barrel to become senior officers. What will happen if you don’t take the inputs from junior leaders assuming that they know everything because they have undergone the same exercise as a junior officer and there is no change in the situation? The plain disaster? Because ground situation changes every time?
Let us take the corporate context, all the top companies are very careful about the selection of leadership team, even then the business plan fails for the simple reason that somebody said “Yes” when he was supposed to say “No”. I have been witness to so many situations when targets were not agreed to in corporate meeting, then CEO called the business head in the office and targets were agreed upon. Everybody knew that those targets were not achievable because of solid reasons, once the year passed, poor BU Head was told to explain. In the Army context, this will not happen, the senior officer will be the first casualty.
Why you don’t agree to honest feedback especially when it is unpleasant, the person who is providing an honest feedback must be treated as an asset because at least he is giving you the opportunity to amend the things at the right time. Don’t disregard him or treat him like “Pariah”. You do it at your own peril.
The honest feedback provided by legendary Sam Manekshaw regarding the timing of 1971 war to Mrs. Indira Gandhi is now a part of folklore. Had we fought in August 1971 instead of December 1971, the history would have been different.
Are our corporate leaders ready to take a negative feedback? You must have heard of Johari Table. It is a very old but effective tool for anybody to find out his or her strength and weaknesses and how it can be improved. As part of this exercise, one CEO wanted to know his strength and weaknesses (including blind spots) on a group platform. You can’t believe what was the result? There were twenty six strong points and only three weak points. Nobody wanted to open up because nobody was sure how BOSS will take it. Even God has more weaknesses than this CEO. Hilarious indeed?
Don’t waste the opportunity to get the unpleasant negative feedback that is for your improvement only. Why don’t you reward the most honest negative feedback about you? It will change your performance and organization culture in a positive way.