Want to become an exceptional leader? Go where the most courageous leaders are willing to venture. Seek honest feedback, even if the feedback is not what you want to hear.

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, is no stranger to employing a feedback loop to fix problems and improve things. In a casual interview some years back, Musk dropped this memorable quote:

I think it's very important to have a feedback loop, where you're constantly thinking about what you've done and how you could be doing it better. I think that's the single best piece of advice -- constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.

In trusted teams and positive work cultures, negative and constructive feedback will stretch both leaders and their workers to question whether something is working, so they can learn new things and consider other, better, options to complex business problems.

Feedback loop for leaders

From a leadership standpoint, the feedback loop is unquestionably a part of every leader's growing process. This is how you win the hearts of people: fostering a transparent work culture of giving and receiving consistent feedback. 

Mike Zani, CEO at the Predictive Index and author of The Science of Dream Teams, shared with me recently that "true leadership requires an act of certain courage -- a willingness to peel back the onion and own your uglier layers. In doing so, you'll create a safe space for your peers to help."

When people see that you're working on improving yourself through feedback, Zani says they'll be more inclined to assume positive intent. They'll get onboard with you. And in doing so, you'll promote leadership at every level.

"The most effective method is to enlist your colleagues," says Zani. "That means opening yourself up to scrutiny -- through 360 reviews, engagement surveys, and other forms of potentially stinging feedback -- but the payoff will be worth it."

Whether you're aiming to improve on a particular product or service, management style, business process, or something else, your best move is to intentionally seek feedback from people smarter than you, even when you falsely assume you're the smartest person in the room. Eat humble pie, hire people brighter than you, and solicit consistent feedback to improve yourself and the business.