Swiping my transit ticket recently, I noted that the machine is called “The Validator”. At the time, I was really in need of some good validation – come on, who isn’t?! I then started thinking about Validator as Evaluator. I often talk to Leaders about how they will evaluate their own performance or behaviours against their stated leadership philosophy. How will they receive validation or confirmation that they are living their philosophy – that they are achieving the results they believe they are? I believe good leadership starts with self-awareness. Self-awareness is an iterative process – we look, we consider, we change, we grow, we evaluate our outcomes, we look, etc. Self-awareness is never going to be something that we finish. A challenge is that our human nature or hard wiring creates barriers for us in the pursuit of clear feedback. We instinctively look for the Validator, the feedback that confirms what we believe to be true and we usually believe the best about ourselves, well about our intent anyway. Several psychological theories speak to this. The Attribution Theory holds that we look for evidence to confirm our beliefs and actively ignore or discount evidence to the contrary. Evidence includes people. We discount the feedback from people we view as challenging, less articulate, less intelligent, less titled….less like us. For everybody, listening to those voices that we don’t really want to hear is difficult, however it is vital if we are to create the culture, atmosphere or workgroups that we dream of. Today I challenge you to step out of your usual way of evaluating your own performance. Take the viewpoint of the person whose opinion you don’t usually consider – the complainer, the difficult person, the performance nightmare. How might you be perceived through their world view? What’s the truth there? How might their feedback be just the thing you need to consider?