Be open to feedback, fine tune leadership skills

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Steve Mortensen
  • 62nd Airlift Wing
When my son was a toddler, it was always quite obvious when he disagreed with my parenting decisions. From pitching green beans from his dinner plate or pitching a royal fit right before bedtime, his feedback was usually quick and to the point. On the flipside, when he agreed with my actions, I was usually treated to a broad smile, giggle, or hug.

It was through this interaction that I was able to grow and develop as a parent, fine tuning my skills so I could effectively help him reach his full potential as a young man. Many times, we as leaders and supervisors overlook the importance of opening ourselves up to feedback from those Airmen we are responsible for. Decisions are made and relayed to those we supervise or lead without a mechanism to ask, "How'd that work for you?"

While the job may be getting done, you should stop and ask yourself if you have truly met all your responsibilities as a leader or supervisor. How would you know if those you are responsible for are unmotivated, stressed, feel cut off from the mission, or believe they are not valued or part of a team?

Most Airmen are not going to provide such obvious feedback as my infant son, nor as professional Airmen would we expect them to. That means we as leaders often times need to go looking for it. Your door may "always be open" but when is the last time you stood at someone's bench, desk, or work center and asked, "How am I doing? Is there something I could be doing better?"

As the demands on our workforce increase, fine tuning your leadership skills so you can enable your team to reach its full potential is now more essential than ever. By soliciting and listening to what your folks have to say, you might discover that it isn't the fact that those green beans taste bad, it's that you made them just a little too hot to eat.