Getting compliments and kindly advice feels nice but won’t get you far. An appetite for the brutal truth, on the other hand, can draw potential sponsors who might help further your career. A capacity to handle withering criticism and difficult news demonstrates that you can be trusted to confront rather than shirk the tough stuff—the ultimate test of a leader. If you seek out criticism from your superiors, they will find it easy to level with you, rely on you for their highest-profile assignments, and take you on as a protégé.
Demonstrate your leadership abilities by asking for unvarnished feedback and welcoming tough guidance. Sponsors will point out painful shortcomings—skill gaps, communication failures, appearance blunders—which may be hard to hear, but having the unspoken articulated can help you lever yourself into contention for top slots, steering you toward success.
Adapted from Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor, by Sylvia Ann Hewlett.