Feedback: Solving the Most Common Failure in Leadership

Research indicates feedback-seeking is the behavior leaders fail at the most.*

The mirror you use to see yourself is distorted. You believe you’re helping. They want you to get out of the way. You think you’re encouraging. They think you’re pushy. Distortion is painful.

Seeking feedback expands potential.

The pursuit of feedback enhances all other leadership pursuits. Image of a dog chasing bubbles.

5 reasons leaders don’t seek feedback:

  1. Ignorance. You don’t know how.
  2. Fear. You fear looking human.
  3. Overconfidence. You have arrived.
  4. Lack of opportunity. You can’t find someone to tell you the truth. If all the feedback you receive is positive someone is lying or everyone is ignorant.
  5. Lack of time.

Who has time for self-development when you’re so busy?

Image of a sheep dog leading a sheep.

2 insights about feedback:

Seeking feedback isn’t asking for advice.

You explain what you see when you give feedback. When you ask, “How could I improve,” you’re seeking advice.

Don’t let others control you. Ask for multiple options when seeking advice. Avoid situations where you have to say, “I’m not going to do that.”

Protect choice by seeking multiple option.

Ask questions about behaviors.

  1. What did you think I was working to accomplish when I (describe a behavior)? Don’t tell people what you were doing. See if your behaviors reflect what you were trying to accomplish.
  2. What am I doing that helps you connect to organizational values and mission? (Be specific)
  3. What am I doing that enhances your performance? Hinders?
  4. When am I most effective? Least effective?
  5. How am I enhancing the performance of teams? Hindering?
  6. How am I supporting your professional growth?
  7. What’s one thing I do that helps me …? Describe an outcome you are working to achieve.

Responses to feedback:

  1. Thank you.
  2. Tell me more.
  3. What suggestions do you have? (Always in plural form.)

The pursuit of excellence requires feedback.

What might leaders do to solicit useful feedback?

What are some useful responses to feedback?

* The Leadership Challenge

3 Ways to Give Feedback that Works

The ABCs of Giving and Seeking Feedback that Really Works

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