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It’s 9am on a Monday. You’ve got a billion things to do when you get your first email starting with “Apologies if I’m speaking out of turn..” or the physical equivalent, “ Have you got a moment – there’s something I just wanted to make you aware of…”. Like many other mortal beings, your first response to negative noise like this is “Bog off”, or probably something a little stronger.

Negative Feedback Can Be Hard To Swallow When Your The One With Everything At Stake

We all know that feedback can be great: the secret sauce to raising your leadership game. We’ve read about self-awareness and how receiving feedback is a valuable part of raising it. But how come ‘feedback’ when directed at how your run the business largely feels like it’s said between gritted teeth and increasingly just sounds the moans of an employee (who you might add – isn’t exactly pulling their weight…. ). I mean, don’t they know that you’ve already had 3 customer complaints this morning and your inbox of tasks is filling up quicker than you can keep up with?!

The temptation therefore to bat away anything perceived as a complaint with a few choice words or icy stare is strong in most of us. Even stronger in those who are leading (and likely funding) a business. You’d be forgiven for feeling that way occasionally – you’re only human.

But Respect Their Candour And Listen – The Implications Are Wider Than You Think

Before you dismiss any constructive criticism out of hand or do nothing but make a cursory acknowledgement of it, take a deep breath and listen to what they are saying without jumping in. In being considerate and empathetic to your team, you are showing much more positive behaviour to those around you, something which Martyn Newman (2008) found as behaviour more likely to be demonstrating transformational leadership than the ‘average-Joe(Anne)’. And who wants to be average?

And Remember There’s Never A Right Time For Feedback You Don’t Want To Hear

True – there are completely wrong times – client meetings and investor presentations spring to mind here. Not everyone has your gift of self-awareness and tact. But if you can’t address the ‘noise’ right there, then acknowledge that they’ve shared their concerns and explain that you will have to review their comments at a time when you aren’t firefighting. Then tell them when that will be so it’s not left hanging.

Ultimately in lending them an ear rather than giving them your elbow, you’ll be doing yourself a favour by showing interest and consideration to your team, something which will reap the rewards for you in terms of engagement felt by them.

For more details on ‘noise’ outsourcing or any other HR challenges you might have, drop us a line at or call 0203 627 7048.

For more reading on giving your own leadership style a bit of a kickstart , then download our new eBook: Leadership 101: The Ultimate Guide to Being an Inspirational Leader.

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Photo Credit: The Gabec