Hiding from FeedbackPlato once observed “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when people are afraid of the light.” Ignoring or failing to understand how others see our behaviors keeps us in the dark and diminishes everyone’s perceptions of our leadership effectiveness. Those perceptions then shape the reality of our leadership impact and outcomes.

A strong leader or coach doesn’t protect people from themselves. Extraordinary leaders and coaches shine the light of feedback to constructively redirect negative behaviors and reinforce positive behaviors.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines feedback as:

  • “helpful information or criticism that is given to someone to say what can be done to improve a performance, product, etc.
  • something (such as information or electricity) that is returned to a machine, system, or process.
  • an annoying and unwanted sound caused by signals being returned to an electronic sound system.”

Tomorrow we publish my April blogs in the May issue of The Leader Letter. This issue spotlights research, best practices, and core skills of seeking and giving feedback. Effective feedback provides the “helpful information” that dramatically improves our own and others’ performance. In this issue we’ll look at the biggest problems with most 360 feedback tools now widely in use and research showing the components of best-of-class 360 assessments so the feedback maximizes performance improvement.

You’ll also find new research on the type, frequency, and barriers to informative feedback that can help systems, processes, and people get better.  Feedback is data or information we often label as positive or negative. The key is objectively accepting, prioritizing, and turning this data or information into change.

We’ve all winced and covered our ears when experiencing the horrendous squeal of “an annoying or unwanted sound” in a loudspeaker system. If we don’t effectively navigate the conundrums, ironies, and contradictions of feedback we can be deafened by the squeals of focusing on the wrong things such as weaknesses. Or we might produce a squeal that overwhelms the person we’re giving feedback to and they can’t — or won’t – hear our message.