Many leadership studies show that consistent feedback improves personal performance and credibility, and it strengthens team performance. It takes a profound desire to improve and grow when you seek out advice based on another's assessment of your behavior or performance.
Leadership is a behavior, not a position. Leaders are judged by behavior, attitude and actions. Consistently asking those around us “How am I doing?” opens the door to professional growth. Routinely asking for evaluation removes much of the ego-related personal feelings of rejection. Allowing others to assess our performance builds trust and credibility.
Credibility is at the foundation of leadership.
Constructive feedback is a form of coaching. It is a tool to help us learn, grow and make positive changes to our behavior.
Constructive feedback is:
Expressing an assessment of performance: what went right or what could have been done better. This kind of feedback opens the door to a nonjudgmental two-way conversation.
Constructive feedback is NOT:
Telling someone how they “should” be performing. That is “instructing.”
“Tailboard talks” are examples of team safety assessments as they pertain to a single incident response. Why not do the same thing for individual growth?
Achieving growth through feedback
You can achieve growth through constructive feedback by:
- Conducting immediate conversations when something is headed in the wrong direction or someone does something awesome.
- Conducting open and relaxed one-on-one discussions with your team members. Remember to be accepting. Leave nothing on the table for later discussion. This is a personal conversation for your personal growth.
- Setting personal goals based on this feedback opportunity.
- Showing your appreciation for an honest appraisal and inclusion as a valued team member.
What if the feedback isn't good?
Mistakes are proof that you are doing something. You will not become a worse leader if you ask for your team's assessment and learn from your mistakes and successes.
Kouzes, J. (2019). Loving critics: The importance of feedback. The Leadership Challenge.
Rockwell, D. (2019). How to knock a box off a stool with a cookie. Leadership Freak.
National Fire Academy leadership training
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