There are two flavors of feedback – positive feedback you like to hear and constructive feedback you need to hear.
As we advance in the leadership ranks, particularly at executive levels, feedback becomes both increasingly important and increasingly rare. Naturally, we actively seek feedback to affirm our performance – assignments, promotions, bonuses, pay increases, and other cues of kudos. However, because receiving (and giving) feedback can be hard, we often overlook the fact that constructive feedback is lacking.
But here’s the key – people are forming impressions of you that influence how you are perceived and the opportunities that will arise for you – everyday. Don’t you want to know what those most influential to your success are saying about you as they impact your professional brand?
Receiving Feedback – The Gift of Knowing What You Don’t Know
In the absence of knowing the critical feedback, whether it is true or perceived, you are unable to address it. Without candid feedback, you may have a false impression of yourself and be getting passed over for opportunities and rewards without knowing why.
Many years ago, while leading a major organizational transformation, I had to deliver some management effectiveness feedback to a long-tenured, senior leader, far senior to me in age at the time. Despite the difficult conversation that had transpired, he thanked me and commented that “feedback is a gift.” He’s right – it’s better to have the gift of knowing what people think of you so you can modify your leadership behavior to be more effective, than to be unaware of the feedback and unable to grow and progress as a leader, unsure as to why.
Acting on Feedback – The Gift of Knowing What to Do
While getting and really understanding feedback is difficult, it is just the first step – the magic happens when you (1) determine what to do with the feedback and (2) successfully put that into practice. Truly capitalizing on feedback and forming new behavioral habits is really the whole point of getting feedback in the first place and it can be hard to do consistently, particularly without the help of a good coach.
Just recently, this was reaffirmed while I was coaching a senior executive being groomed for a president role. This leader’s communication and leadership style had contributed to numerous successes in the sales arena, but a president role would require more from him. His enthusiasm for feedback and willingness to embrace coaching with ongoing reinforcement helped him adapt his style to increase effectiveness in working with his peers and inspiring followers – success critical to his new, far-broader leadership responsibilities.
Feedback is a gift. While difficult to consume at times, soliciting feedback – truly hearing and understanding it – and doing something about it, differentiates great leaders. Feedback is the foundation for continued leadership development and growth. Whether real or perceived, it reflects how others view you and make decisions about you and your capabilities (or liabilities).
So, go do the leadership work and seek the gift of feedback. It is a gift that keeps on giving and will help to accelerate your leadership trajectory.
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Lisa Andrade is founder and CEO of M33, an executive coaching and leadership development company proven in both the “executive” and “coaching” in executive coaching. M33 leverages the art of leadership and advanced leadership science to create an executive blueprint tailored to you and your organization. For an initial consultation with Lisa, contact M33 at ClientServices@mThirtyThree.com.