Top-Shelf Tip No. 71:

"You’re never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you’re never as bad as they say when you lose."

Lou Holtz

How Smart Leaders Handle Critical Feedback

Constructive criticism can be hard to swallow, but effective leaders know they can use it to their advantage. People who ask for and receive feedback tend to accomplish better results and are more successful in their jobs. The highest performers are often more open to feedback and use it as fuel for personal growth.

Mary Jo Asmus, a former Fortune 100 executive who now runs an executive coaching firm, encourages leaders never to pass up on critical feedback, even though it may sting. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we explore Asmus' ways to temper your emotional reactions to feedback that might be difficult to receive.

Give yourself time to digest the information. When you receive some critical feedback, it's important to understand that the comments most likely include a mix of what you are doing well and what you can improve. Your immediate focus might go toward the critical aspects, but don't lose sight of the strengths others see in you, too.

Realize the feedback is simply someone's perspective. When someone shares critical information, that's how he or she views it. Asmus encourages leaders to take some time, settle down and consider what's being said. Discuss the feedback you received with a friend or trustworthy colleague who can help you see the balance and provide another perspective on the information. Remember that any feedback you receive—positive or negative—is someone's personal opinion and not necessarily the absolute truth.

Understand that you can choose how to react. Nobody can decide how you feel or act upon receiving critical feedback. Asmus suggests leaders ask themselves if they're going to buy into what they've heard and if so, whether it's worth their time and effort to do something about it. On the other hand, the opinions and perspectives of others might have some merit that's important to your future success.

Know that positive and negative information are valuable. Leaders know that in order to grow and develop professionally, they need to hear the good and the bad. It's great to hear when others appreciate your strengths and acknowledge your contributions, and it's also good to know how they think you can improve. The critical things you hear might be the things you need to work on that give you the boost to become an even better leader.

Leaders often must give constructive criticism in order to develop their teams. Being on the receiving end of this feedback isn't any easier. However, when you keep in mind the points above, you can better understand the importance of critical feedback in helping you transform your leadership. Rather than getting defensive or angry the next time you receive some critical comments, remember the benefits of the feedback and you'll position yourself to respond with tact and grace.

Source: Mary Jo Asmus is a former Fortune 100 executive who started the executive coaching firm, Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. Her firm partners with leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving and sustaining relationships with people who are essential to their success.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers