As I’ve traveled across the country—and recently internationally—helping our clients forge elite leadership at every level, one key aspect of World-Class Performers continues to challenge leaders at all levels.
At Solutions 21, we define performance feedback as assessments of behavioral style, emotional intelligence, leadership competencies and skills, and conflict responses that provide crucial feedback. This feedback makes leaders aware of unconscious tendencies and allows them to turn those tendencies into conscious, positive choices.
If you are seeking to take your leadership to another level, receiving feedback and making the appropriate adjustments is critical to your future development and success. Follow me on this journey of three simple but crucial steps: Determine Sources of Feedback, Your Performance Feedback Mindset, and finally, Implement the Performance Feedback Loop. As we revisit this journey, take notes, and ask yourself the hard question, “How open am I to feedback that will enable my future success?”
STEP 1: Determine Sources of Feedback
As important as it is to accept feedback, it’s not a simple process. The first step to improved leadership is to determine your source of feedback. Specifically, select a source you trust and have validated for your needs. If you have an untrusted source, the feedback is useless, and you won’t accept it for improvement.
Ask yourself, “What are my current sources of performance feedback, and how can I use those sources more effectively?” Some examples may be annual evaluations, peer reviews, trusted family, or confidants that provide unfiltered performance feedback. The key is to have a trusted source you believe in. Additionally, ask, “What other sources of performance feedback am I not using yet?”
STEP 2: Performance Feedback Mindset
In leadership, as in most other endeavors, the critical aspect is your mindset. Performance feedback is no different. You must have the proper mindset to change and reach the next level of success. This requires the leader to focus on what lies ahead versus dwelling on what is in the past. The past can provide valuable insights—just don’t keep looking back, or you might miss something valuable right in front of you.
This mindset has three parts: first, start from where you are. Having a solid sense of self-awareness is crucial to effective leadership. Second, adjust your language, meaning don’t take such a black-and-white, good-or-bad approach. Analyze the situation from different perspectives. When it comes to their feedback mindset, average leaders play checkers; World-Class Performers play three-dimensional chess. Finally, focus on the next opportunity. World-Class performers get over losses quickly, learn from their mistakes, and look for the next opportunity to grow and take their leadership to the next level.
STEP 3: Implement the Performance Feedback Loop
At this point, you have one or more trusted sources of feedback, and your mindset is one of learning to grow your leadership. Now it’s time to apply what you have for exponential growth. The Performance Feedback Loop is a simple four-step process to conceptualize how to make continuous improvements based on your feedback.
One, you act. Once you act, look to your sources of feedback. Second, assess, both objectively and subjectively, what was supposed to happen versus what did happen. Third, analyze. Based on the criteria of success you established, how can you do things better next time? Fourth, adjust identified actions or anything to improve your future actions. Finally, repeat the cycle!
Former World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim, stated the following about feedback concerning leadership: “No matter how good you think you are as a leader, my goodness, the people around you will have all kinds of ideas for how you can get better. So for me, the most fundamental thing about leadership is to have the humility to continue to get feedback and to try to get better—because your job is to try to help everybody else get better.”
In every profession, people who desire to improve their performance know they must reflect on what they have done in the past to do it better in the future. At Solutions 21, we believe every World-Class Performer uses feedback to uncover tendencies that might keep them from reaching the next level. Do you have trusted sources to provide you with feedback? Is your mind open to receiving the feedback? If you are unsure, the method outlined above can get you started.