Leadership for Life – Feedback

By on August 15, 2013
Leadership for Life - Feedback

Our Leadership experts will be sharing tips and insights for everyone, at any station in life, at both home and work. Leadership for Life – the skills you embrace represent who you really are at all times.

Soft skills are making a comeback, and one of the most important of these is communication. Within the communication category is the subcategory of feedback. The value of giving and receiving feedback cannot be overstated, and anyone involved in training or counseling has been beating their clients over the head (figuratively, I hope) with the importance of being skilled at the use of feedback.

Great leaders know that nobody’s perfect. Thus the need for improvement in skills and processes. If you want to get better at something, you need to know where your weaknesses are, so getting feedback from all areas of your organization is crucial. The expanded use of 360-degree assessments, which provide feedback from several levels of the organization, is evidence that feedback is valued more than ever.

For feedback to be effective, it needs to be specific, timely, and balanced. Specificity enables the giver and receiver to pinpoint behaviors that should be reinforced or changed. And behavior is the key element here. We are concerned with what people do, not with what their attitudes or personalities are.

Timeliness enables the receiver to change ineffective behaviors while the change still makes a difference. Therefore feedback, especially developmental feedback, needs to be given and received as soon after the undesirable behavior is noted. For desirable behavior, timely feedback provides the most powerful reinforcement and the best likelihood that the behavior will be repeated.

Balancing feedback between positive and developmental is like the spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down easier. Hardly anyone likes being criticized or receiving negative feedback, but when the criticism is accompanied by positive assessments, it’s easier to take, and puts the criticism in the context of improvement, rather than vindictiveness.

Leaders need feedback as much as anyone else. Because the leader’s behavior has such a powerful effect on the organization and its stakeholders, feedback to the leader, and the continuous improvement the feedback can support, can refresh the organization and keep it healthy and effective. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to encourage and support your organization’s willingness and ability to give you feedback.

If you’d like some help with that, give me a call at 314-539-5329. Oh yeah … if you have any feedback for me, call or write: bschapiro@stlcc.edu.

About Barry Schapiro

Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service. Twitter

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