Feedback: why it is critical to your growth as a leader

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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.

Jim Kouzes, Santa Clara University

Constructive feedback

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.

Further reading

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.

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