Feedback … The Ultimate Leadership Advantage

dog listening with big ear

The notion of perfection is a fallacy, especially when it comes to leadership. The most effective leaders are those willing to look in the mirror, embrace their blind spots and modify that which is not working well for them or others. Like an athlete at the top of her game, there is always opportunity to improve.

While conducting a personal SWOT analysis helps you self-assess your leadership capabilities, soliciting and listening to feedback from your team is a powerful tool for rounding out your perspective and taking your game up a notch.

Your team members can offer unique insights about how your communication style and decision makingKenBlanchardQuoteCallOut approach is helping or hindering their productivity, satisfaction and team alignment. While it can be uncomfortable, seeking and being open to feedback can differentiate you as a leader, especially if team members see you making a concerted effort to embrace their ideas and suggestions.

For those courageous enough to give it a try, heed these reminders to ensure you’re leveraging the power of feedback:

  1. Invite feedback and listen actively. Carve out time periodically to ask your team members what else they need from you to help them accomplish their goals. Establish a regular feedback loop to capture their input on a regular and proactive basis through individual and team meetings. Select a location in which you will not be interrupted or distracted. Ask them about their communication preferences and whether you’re approach to passing along information is working for them. Invite dialogue about how they prefer to be held accountable and if your approach motivates them (or not). Resist defending yourself or blaming the company or culture for less-than-satisfactory feedback. If the feedback you receive is difficult to digest, say “Thanks, I’ll need to reflect on this a bit.” Ask clarifying questions and make it feel safe for the person who may not be accustomed to giving feedback to his manager.
  2. Take time to identify the root causes from the symptoms. Team discontent is serious and often complex. Sometimes, business leaders rush to change their organization’s structure at the first sign of dissatisfaction or process hiccups. The discontent, however, is often more about the team’s rules of engagement — or lack thereof. Resist re-arranging the deck chairs before investigating whether there are deeper process and communication challenges to resolve first.
  3. Consistent feedback about the same challenge is valuable and likely time-sensitive. If you hear similar feedback from multiple team members, it’s best to extinguish the behavior immediately. ElonMuskQuoteCallOutWhen I conduct a 360 assessment, it is not unusual to hear discontent from a client’s direct reports that he texts or emails during 1:1 meetings or cancels them regularly. This type of feedback is valuable information and actionable; thankfully, the behavior can be addressed straightaway and have a big impact. No need to wait for a 360, of course, as you can ask your direct reports directly what is working for them or not.

Bottom line: It pays to solicit and listen to feedback. Inviting and being open to regular and timely feedback can be a strategic leadership advantage which ultimately contributes to a highly engaged team that’s motivated to perform.

Did any of these reminders strike a chord? What are you going to do about it?

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  1. Since team members have differing roles, they may have insights into problems that you aren’t aware of. Soliciting, being receptive and responding to employee (and peer!) feedback is vitally important to relationships — and can result in significant impact on your productivity and profits.

    Can never have too many reminders about the value of feedback!

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