I’ve been doing a lot of group coaching sessions on the topic of feedback over the past month. It’s helped me to put a lot of structure and polish around my own insights, of course, and I’ve learned a lot from the participants – my clients.
I’ve gotta say that I have such a feeling of pride calling these people my clients. They are such amazing, caring, curious, open, generous leaders who are committed to being even better leaders, and I feel so fortunate to be able to work with them and to have something to offer them in their careers. That’s what we all want, right? Work that is fulfilling, that matters and which makes a difference in someone’s life. That’s what I wish for you as a leader – this sense of pride in your team and usefulness in your work.
And now how am I going to tie that to the topic of feedback, I ask myself. It might be a windy road…
Yesterday, there was a group that gave me two new insights. The first is has to do with better understanding how we receive feedback. When we receive feedback – especially constructive criticism – we go through stages as we process it. We don’t all start at the same place. Sometimes we deny, or defend, or are sad, or ask a lot of questions and negotiate. And it seems like it’s a lot like the stages of grief; a process that isn’t necessarily a linear journey.
When we know that, we can have empathy. Feedback is something to which people often respond emotionally and they’ll need time to process and absorb. Knowing this means we can be more thoughtful in how and when and where we deliver it. This goes for positive feedback, too, by the way.
The second insight came in response to a question I always ask: What is your most positive experience receiving feedback. The answer was that feedback that aligns to our beliefs and values, with what is important to us, is the most impactful. Sure, we get all kinds of feedback, solicited and unsolicited, positive, negative, neutral. And it’s all just information that we can choose to use or lose. It’s not all true; it’s not all actionable; it’s not all helpful. But it is truly impactful when it aligns with what we believe is most important; when we are acknowledged for who we strive to be.
And that’s how it ties in, my friend. Being a leader who can receive and deliver meaningful feedback in a thoughtful way that supports your work, your team and their value is a great strength, because that’s what leaders do.
In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!
Love and light,