BLOG, Leadership / April 30, 2018

Feedback Is Not A Dirty Word

By Janine Garner

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” – Ken Blanchard

Strategising, planning, managing cash flow, decision-making; these are all practical essentials of leadership. Do them well, and you will be a good leader. But to be a great and connected leader? That’s something more intangible.

A great leader connects people, skills, strategy and vision.  They understand the importance of surrounding themselves with a great team to propel collective success and know that creating the right environment to inspire and amplify others to greatness is critical. A great leader develops others, guides and mentors – and creates space for individuals to thrive, initiate and show their own skills.

John C. Maxwell is known to have said to his mentees, “The good news is I care about you – the bad news is I will be honest”. And it’s that honesty that is one of the essentials of connected leadership – the honesty to give true, real feedback.

Feedback is a crucial element for success.  Every single one of us needs feedback and support to become better at what we do - we will only improve if we’re willing to hear others point out our weaknesses and opportunities.  We all need a powerful tight network that we trust - that personal pit crew of mentors, coaches and teachers that will challenge and develop our thinking, that will guide our emotions, behaviours and attitudes, that will help pick us up when we fall and be that sounding board for ideas and decisions to be made.  We are all seeking to surround ourselves with others who willingly give feedback because they are 100% committed to our growth and development. And as leaders, as individuals, we need to do ensure we do this for others.

According to research by officevibe, an employee engagement firm, 65% of employees want more feedback. So why don’t we?  Because it’s amazingly hard to give feedback sometimes. We worry about the negative, about hurting someone’s feelings. What if they leave my business?  What if I upset them to the point where they go downhill rather than up? But as Georgia Murch, author of Fixing Feedback says, “If we don’t invest in our people and give them the feedback they need, we can’t expect to have a high performing business.”

Just think about it.  Remember a time when you didn’t give honest feedback how did it feel? Did you end up kicking yourself? How many times have you thought ‘I wish I had said something at X point’; because the result of not giving the feedback at X point ultimately impacted your business and the person you were trying to assist - and not necessarily in a positive way.

Only this last week I debated for a couple of days with how I was going to give constructive feedback and input to someone I respect, admire and who is kicking some serious goals. I know this individual has the potential to kick even more goals, to become even more successful and to step up to their next challenge in business growth – but only when certain business disciplines are put in place along with ownership of the individual’s own journey. I approached the conversation from a place of care and compassion. The feedback was well received and steps have already been taken (I love working with go-getters!) to make a tricky situation more manageable. I know that they both appreciated what I had to say and the way that I said it.

If you approach feedback from a place of care, compassion and wanting to support and guide further evolution and improvement, then it will be something that is both well given and well received. At the end of the day, if you do speak out in this way, it is up to the individual to take ownership of what they do with any feedback; but you owe it to them to give it and avoid any complaining or ‘if only’ moments later on.

Empower those around and you will empower yourself, your team and your business.  Help others take control – and in the process, you will find that it not only lifts their burden but yours as well.

Because you are showing that you give a damn, and that is a very great gift indeed.

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