One of the most challenging tasks of leadership involves sorting through seemingly endless opinions you hear almost every day about pretty much everything. Some of the opinions are crazy. Even the ones that aren’t are conflicting.
Think about it:
Your inbox is filled with polite and not-very-polite suggestions about what you should be doing that you’re not doing, and all the things you need to stop doing.
The five people on your board or leadership team all have different ideas about where to head next.
A few people have ideas about how your sermon could have been better.
Everyone in your church or organization has views on pretty much anything. Just ask them.
Most days it’s enough to make your head swim.
On the one hand, you don’t want to be closed to what other people think. On the other hand, you’ve thought about never asking again because the sea of conflicting voices just seem so overwhelming.
What do you with all that?
How do you figure out which voices to listen to?
How do you know which comments contain the gold and which are distractions?
What do you do when no one agrees with each other?
While your job is to lead people into the future, there is no shortage of opinions on how to do that. And that’s where all the frustration seeps in.
There are great ways to use feedback, and not so great ways.
Knowing the difference can help you immensely.
The Problem With 4,000 Opinions
I was reminded recently of how challenging opinions can be as we selected the final cover design for my next book (which I’m so excited about! It releases September 4th, 2018!).
Choosing a cover isn’t an easy process.
The dialogue on cover design started like many things in leadership do: with a conversation between my editor, me, my agent and few people I invited into the dialogue
My editor, agent, team and I could have just picked our favorite, but I thought I’d test what we thought were the three final designs with a select group of my readers and listeners.
I got over 4,000 responses.
The good news about having 4,000 opinions is you have the insights of 4,000 people.
The bad news, of course, is that you have 4,000 opinions.
When you ask for opinions, you hear from people.
And along the way, guess what I heard?
Tons of conflicting opinions. And negative comments galore. All of that despite getting a 73 percent positive rating on the final cover direction.
At times I had to work hard not to get upset, or discouraged or frustrated. Just like you have to work hard in leadership not to just throw in the towel and declare you’re giving up.
Here are back to back opinions on the SAME design (made on the same day in exactly the same minute, may I add).
What do you do with that?
Someone takes an artist’s hard work and a team’s best efforts and simply says “ugh.” And in the very next breath someone else says “best one yet.”
No wonder leadership is hard.
Opposite opinions were everywhere in the surveys.
Check out the back to back comments below:
Plain. Stereotypical. Awesome. All about the same design.
So whether you have 40 different opinions or 4,000, how do you decide?
We’ll get to that in a minute, but in the meantime…here’s the winner (which I love, and which readers made better with every revision).
And The Winner Is…
Getting user feedback may have been a bit challenging, but it was so rewarding for reasons I’ll explain.
In the meantime, many of you have asked what the book is about, so here’s a quick summary.