I loved my years of dental practice ownership. I grew enormously as a person, and it is where I developed my skills as a leader.
Someone asked me recently: “What was a key lesson in my leadership journey.” I immediately answered “getting brave enough to ask for feedback”.
I had always intended to be an effective leader and boss. I was respectful in my interactions with staff, and ensured I never asked people to do something I wasn’t first willing to do myself. I provided an emotionally safe working environment and encouraged people to share in designing the practice’s successful future. I imagined what staff needed to thrive and set about creating that space.
I then read an article by American leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith that changed my approach to leadership forever.
In the article, Marshall encouraged leaders to put their egos aside and ASK FOR FEEDBACK. To actually sit with staff one-on-one for their assessment of what you are like as a leader, and how they think you could improve.
“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Ken Blanchard (Author of The One Minute Manager)
There are many skills in life where we need to ‘get out of own way’ in order to progress. Leadership is certainly one such skill.
Mastery of any skill is determined by how uncomfortable we are willing to get. Think of public speaking. The only way to get better is to be uncomfortable on the journey. To not only be open to critique of your performance, but to seek it out. Those who are willing to be most uncomfortable, will progress the quickest.
Even though I did find these discussions with staff uncomfortable at first, they swiftly became powerful directors of my behaviour.
Receiving feedback from staff not only built on my skills, but also resulted in two other wonderful benefits. One, it deepened the trust between myself and each staff member. And, two, it opened the staff up to also embrace feedback. Feedback became a ‘safe’ process that quickly became part of the team culture at my practice.
My abilities as a leader were not realised when I started managing staff. Successful leadership happened when I became brave enough to ask.