The number one quality of the most influential people

Courtesy of Arrow Electronics

The Fortune 500 Insider Network is our newest online community where top executives from the Fortune 500 share ideas and offer leadership advice with Fortune’s global audience. Gretchen Zech, senior vice president of global human resources at Arrow Electronics, has answered the question: How do you make criticism constructive?

Constructive criticism is rooted in good intention and clarity of purpose. It elevates. It does not diminish. While there will always be prevailing viewpoints, no one person has the ultimate corner on right, but rather a corner on his or her own perspective. How that perspective is shared with and received by another is what makes for effective or ineffective leadership and followership.

In my experience, I’ve found that the most influential persons are those who are grounded in their own security and bring humanity into the workplace through constructive interactions with others. Criticism is constructive when it propels us forward in mindset and result. Whether we get stuck in a moment of fleeting success or failure depends on our willingness to self-innovate. And, whether giving or receiving feedback, there are three concepts about self-innovation that I believe provide a roadmap for professional growth and business results:

Meta observation and check yourself
Elevate your self-awareness by being willing to observe your own behavior patterns — both good and bad — and results. Do the same with others and with organizational cultures. The key here is to do it all without ego, judgment or defense, but instead with a curious mind.

Discernment and make room for change
Take the complexity of all of those observations and simplify it in order to positively affect your performance and to change for the future.

Authenticity and embrace differences
It’s important to know what makes each of us unique and sets us apart, and to appreciate that uniqueness in others.

These three concepts are really about broadening the spectrum of self-awareness and behavior by raising personal consciousness and expanding our capability.


Read all answers to the Fortune 500 Insider question: How do you make criticism constructive?

Here’s how not to piss off employees after critiquing their ideas by Val DiFebo, CEO of Deutsch New York.

3 easy ways to make criticism sting a little less by Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobile & Business Solutions.

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