Anyone in a people management role knows that it can be challenging to get candid and actionable feedback to improve your performance and to guide your growth as a leader. If you’re at or near the top of your organization’s hierarchy, it can seem almost impossible.
Let’s face it – offering praise feels safe and politically smart, yet the thought of giving the organization’s senior management an honest perspective on their gaps and missteps tends to leave team members feeling like they’re hanging off of the skinny branches.
And yet, as a top executive (or a manager in the pipeline to the top), how you are perceived has a direct impact on your ability to inspire trust and commitment, to galvanize people and teams into action against your vision, and to achieve your key strategic objectives.
When you know how you are perceived and what works or doesn’t work in your personal approach, the path to higher performance leadership becomes clearer. You gain the clarity necessary to adjust behaviors and communications in a manner that will increase your effectiveness and impact. You can then create the “head space” necessary to explore your default mindset, perspectives and overall modus operandi.
This provides access to a deeper level of personal reflection where real growth and transformation can occur. It forces a choice: continue on auto-pilot doing the things you’re comfortable doing and that have worked for you so far, OR investigate other dimensions within yourself that may expand your capacity to lead and accelerate your personal growth in meaningful ways.
If you’re surrounded by colleagues who understand the competencies and behaviors essential for success AND who are comfortable providing transparent feedback AND who can do so with the emotional intelligence and communication skills necessary to be heard, then congratulations! You are in the fortunate minority.
For everyone else, other feedback strategies are an imperative. And there are many ways to go about soliciting robust input. When working in an executive coaching engagement, I use a combination of a comprehensive online assessment (The Leadership Circle Profile – https://leadershipcircle.com/assessment-tools/profile/) followed by live interviews with a subset of key stakeholders. Conducting confidential 1:1 interviews enables me to probe deeper into the themes that arise from the online assessment and, crucial to building a client’s self-awareness, they allow me to capture specific examples of strengths and gaps at play in real situations. This establishes a visual for both me and the client of what their day-to-day leadership looks like … for better or worse. From there, the work of leadership refinement begins.
The feedback process is only a spring board for self-awareness, behavior change and self-management. It’s what you commit to doing with the information that either creates an opportunity for transformation and elevated leadership or leaves you at your status quo.
If you’re looking to refine your performance and take your leadership to a level you know exists within you, yet you haven’t been able to tap, call me. Let’s explore your unique situation and determine if executive coaching could be a powerful lever in creating the future you seek.
PRACTICES – To jump start your feedback process, consider any of the following approaches:
1) Engage your HR partner and inquire about feedback tools your organization uses. Determine if any of these will support you and take action.
2) Revisit your last 2-3 performance reviews. Are there consistent themes for your performance that keep surfacing year after year? Evaluate the strategies you’ve used to address these and determine what’s worked and what hasn’t. Consult with someone who demonstrates strength in these areas and ask for feedback and advice.
3) Identify a few people who are least likely to be intimidated by you or your position (remember, sometimes people fear the perceived power of your role and not necessarily you!) and ask for their observations of what you do well and where you could fine-tune your leadership. Probe for their perspective on what your behaviors and communications look and sound like so that you can understand the image you’re projecting.