I recently ran a leadership development workshop for several dozen managers and was asked: ‘To what extent is role modelling important for leaders?’ The research evidence suggests that role modelling matters a great deal for leaders who wish to be effective and influential with the people they manage.
In a recent study, a team of researchers led by Jing Qian at Beijing Normal University's business school investigated the impact of leaders' behaviour on employees' willingness to seek feedback. Their data showed that leaders' listening behaviour was strongly correlated with employees' feedback-seeking.
You cannot simply demand that your employees become more receptive to feedback
The right climate
For example, leaders who were rated by their employees as ‘focused on me’, ‘sincere’ and whose ‘nonverbal gestures suggested he or she was listening to me’ tended to create team climates in which employees were more likely to ask for constructive criticism.
Clearly, as a leader you want your employees to not only respond to your feedback but actively seek out ways in which they could improve their performance. However, the results of this, as well as other studies, suggest that you cannot simply demand that your employees become more receptive to feedback. Their eagerness to seek feedback will in part be determined first by your willingness to ask questions and listen intently to what your employees have to say.