Leaders rely on accurate information to inform their decisions. It's no different than driving. When we glance down at the gas gauge we don't want an inflated estimate of our vehicle's fuel level. Nor do we want our speedometer to give us the benefit of the doubt by rounding down 10-20 m.p.h. when we're in a hurry.
Actually, that may sound somewhat appealing...until we find ourselves paying for a speeding ticket.
In the same spirit, it might sound appealing to get overwhelmingly positive feedback from the people around us. Inflated estimates. Benefits of the doubt. But these things aren't really helpful either.
What's helpful (to me at least) is a person who cares enough to share an honest assessment of what they're seeing. This past week, I received a true gift in the form of feedback from somebody I deeply respect. They prefaced their feedback by letting me know how much they cared, and then they leaned into offering really clear questions and perspective on a project I'm working on.
Nothing I type here will come close to conveying the level of gratitude I'm feeling as a result of their genuine sharing with me. Maybe it was the approach they took...and maybe it was the wisdom of their words. (It was probably both these things.)
Regardless, I walked away feeling blessed to have people in my life who trust me enough to tell me when they see things differently. It took me a little while to process the feedback, but the longer I let it stir in my heart the more grateful I grew.
I wrote about this kind of growth in my latest book, Reclaiming Our Calling: Hold on to the Heart, Mind, and Hope of Education. "The amount we grow in any given challenge is a direct reflection of the amount we're willing to admit we don't already know. (pg. 25)” It’s funny how the words we write in a book hoping to help somebody else can actually turn out to be the very thing we needed to read.
So here’s what I’m thinking…hold on to the people in your life who show you love by being honest. Hold on to friends and colleagues willing to deliver difficult messages when it would be so much easier for them to deliver only the easy ones.
And whatever you do, strive to be somebody others can trust to deliver difficult information and important perspective to.
If this blog post resonated, you might like my newest book, Reclaiming Our Calling: Hold on to the Heart, Mind, and Hope of Education. The book tackles a tension many educators are feeling using a combination of stories and practical strategies. If you’re interested in technology integration, Renegade Leadership: Creating Innovative Schools for Digital-Age Students is a best-seller with Corwin Press. Both books are built on the belief that everything we do in education starts with relationships and connectedness.