Who to Encourage and Who to Kick in the Pants

Experienced leaders benefit most from tough feedback, as long as they’re committed to growth.

Novices need encouraging feedback.

Negative feedback:

Suppose you’ve been working on running great meetings for years and you’re committed to getting even better. How would you feel if I told you that you’re doing something that hinders the effectiveness of your meetings?

It might sting but you’d lean in and say, “Tell me more.”

What if I explain that great teams talk TO EACH OTHER more than the person at the head of the table? You’d be excited to develop the conversation around the table. Right?

Experienced leaders enjoy being told what they’re doing wrong – as long as it helps them improve.

I’ve been giving presentations since I was 16 years old. I’m still committed to improve. A few years ago I invited a person to come to a presentation for the sole purpose of giving me feedback.

He told me I look down when I think. He said he lost connection with me. I’m so thankful for his corrective feedback. I continue to work on maintaining eye contact while I speak.

Positive feedback:

Novices need positive feedback about their commitment to meet expectation.

Corrective feedback is discouraging to novices who are doing their best. They need to be told what they’re doing right and that – with hard work – they can meet their goals.

Positive feedback motivates the inexperienced, as long as you don’t give the impression that success is easy. At the same time, honor commitments.


Everyone needs positive AND negative feedback.

Experienced people get the most from negative feedback. Give novices and new employees 5X more positive than negative feedback.

When is it most useful to give negative/positive feedback?