Do you want honest feedback? Really? You should. What your organization produces is only as good as its participation, and no manager is better than the sum of themselves and their employees. A manager has to create a culture that fosters honest feedback. To do this, he or she needs to set the example. At meetings you need to first ask for feedback. You may not get it initially as employees will be hesitant to give honest opinions as opposed to being politically correct in the bureaucratic sense of the word. To encourage honest feedback a manager might say, “Look, I just brainstormed this idea and haven’t thought it through yet. I need you to tell me if it makes any sense at all or is it total crap?” You may start with a relatively minor or unimportant idea in order to enable employees to risk giving an honest opinion. If someone offers an opinion, you can’t reject it. You can be neutral but don’t shut it down. Say, “Good, thanks for that idea! Are there any others?” You can prod participation by saying, “Hey I can’t do this all on my own, I need your help and input.” If no one offers anything, ask specific people, and be gracious to any feedback. You may need to start small and build up trust. If any ideas are reasonable, start implementing them and crediting the people who offered them. You need to show in concrete terms that you are receptive to ideas, and people will get credit for their ideas. Once you have established a culture of feedback, you will be able to put forth ideas and have every member of your team offer an honest opinion. Right or wrong, if all feedback is treated with respect, you will be able to quickly analyze all sides to an issue or problem. Imagine putting forth a problem with a proposed solution and asking for feedback. Within a half hour every member of your team has chimed in and you’ve discovered three angles you never thought about, a completely new idea, and caught a disasterous pitfall that would have killed the project’s success. As you adjourn, everyone feels like they’ve contributed and they trust you will synthesize the best of the feedback into a revised proposal that will again be run through “the gauntlet” of feedback. It may not be quick or easy to arrive at a culture that fosters true feedback, but if you do, you will be much stronger than any of your peer managers. Not only will you be more effective at delivering quality product, but you will be seen as a true leader of people. Remember true leaders lead, they just don’t manage.