Early on in my career, I was not interested in what others had to say about my performance or how I could improve. As time progressed, and I learned the true value of feedback, I began to see exponential progress in my leadership and influence.
A mentor once told me, if someone gives you feedback once, it’s a data point. If they give you feedback twice, start listening. Anything more than that, you need to take a look in the mirror and attack the feedback strategically because you have a blind spot.
Here’s the hard truth: all leaders have blind spots and need the help and support of others to provide performance feedback to improve in leadership capabilities.
Read the sentence again.
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; making leaders aware of unconscious tendencies and giving them the ability to turn those tendencies into conscious, positive choices.
If you think about it, every profession has some sort of feedback to improve the performance of those involved. Athletes use game film, executives use evaluation reports, sales managers use revenue reports, performing artists use video and audio recordings, and the list goes on.
So how can 21st-century leaders assess performance, seek the blind spots, and effectively utilize performance feedback to improve their leadership? A proven technique is the Performance Feedback Loop.
Before diving into identifying and practicing the feedback loop, a leader must first identify the source of feedback. How will you receive feedback? Who will you receive it from? What are your current sources and how will you use them effectively?
Second, get in the right mindset to receive the feedback. You must know and understand where you currently are mentally and emotionally. Then, seek how you will adjust your “language” in receiving the feedback; meaning you must have a receptive mindset to the feedback. Don’t see things as “black and white”, rather, remain open to different possibilities for improvement. Finally, focus on the next opportunity to improve your leadership.
Now you are mentally prepared to practice the Performance Feedback Loop in four repeatable steps of act, analyze, assess, and adjust. As you receive feedback from a trusted source, decide to act on it. The loop cannot progress until you decide to act. Then, based on the feedback, analyze it from both an objective and subjective point of view. Again, stay open to new opportunities or ideas. Don’t be rigid. Next, assess what areas you can control, what you cannot, and devise a plan to improve. Finally, take your plan and make proper adjustments; at which point the loop starts again.
Former World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim, stated the following about feedback in relation to 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.”
Do you have trusted resources and people to provide you with feedback? Is your mind open to receiving the feedback from trusted sources? If you are unsure, the method outlined above can get you started.