Most leaders would admit that having a trusted advisor is critical for their career success yet many leaders go their entire career without having a true trusted advisor. A trusted advisor is someone who can give you direct, actionable feedback and tell you what others won’t tell you. It may be a mentor, colleague or executive coach.
Unfortunately, it is very common for leaders to get feedback that is coded or unclear. Feedback is often given such in a way that is not actually helpful and, worse, it's not the real feedback that the leader needs to hear. Have you ever gotten feedback like that?
If you have, what can happen over time is that you begin to “get numb” to the process and just go through the motions because history has shown that the feedback is not very helpful. This is not a character flaw on your part. In fact, many leaders struggle with getting high quality feedback. Having a trusted advisor to tell you directly what others won't tell you is a game changer.
There are three key things to consider when finding a trusted advisor or working with someone who is currently in that role with you.
Can They Identify My Blind Spots?
One of the most critical aspects of feedback is to understand your blind spots. Blind spots are the habits or patterns that are hidden to you but hold you back in your leadership. They are development areas you’d probably avoid addressing if you could but it is those very areas that will make the most impact.
Can they help me identify my blindspots? Can they help me address them?
Can They Provide Clear and Direct Feedback?
You want to make sure that your trusted advisor is giving you feedback that is helpful and that will transform you in the process. Rather than offering simple, vague feedback that leaves you feeling unclear and possibly frustrated, you want feedback that is specific and clear so that you can pinpoint where to make the change.
Can they give me clear feedback so I know the exact actions to take to remedy the situation?
Can I Completely Let My Guard Down and Feel Safe?
It is essential to have a place where you can allow yourself to be vulnerable, to share what's really going on and to let down your guard, not just a little bit, but completely. When you can, your growth becomes exponential. Unfortunately, many leaders get feedback from their manager, colleagues and/or an internal mentor but often hold back because they can not really speak openly and honestly about their challenges, doubts, fears, and worries.
Can I truly be vulnerable and open with my trusted advisor?
As we approach the last quarter of 2019, it’s important to reflect on your development as a leader and if you made the progress required in the past year.
If you do not already have a trusted advisor, I recommend you find someone who can support you to radically shift your performance and your leadership to finish the year strong. This could be an executive coach, a mentor, a colleague, or it could be a friend, but preferably somebody who understands leadership and your organizational context.
Then, set up weekly meetings to get raw, candid feedback to identify specific actions and scenarios where you can make powerful changes.
Athena Williams, Founder of Uplevel DNA and Executive Coach, has been facilitating leadership retreats for individuals and organizations for over 18 years. Her powerful, impactful approach creates deep and sustainable transformation within a short time. She is currently hosting retreats virtually, onsite and in select locations where clients fly in for their retreat, the Uplevel DNA Leadership Immersion, in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Maui or Auckland, New Zealand.