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How to Develop Leaders Using Feedback

By Michael Heller Performance Feedback

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Howard Schultz, Sheryl Sandberg, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Marissa Mayer. Household names for one reason: they lead. Whether you agree with their business acumen and management style or not, these individuals rose to a position of great influence, control and power. Organizations with a true leader have the capacity to move mountains. Organizations who are not developing leaders become extinct.

Leadership is powerful, there is no doubt about it. Yet, why is leadership development failing time after time? Becoming a successful leader requires more than just hard work. Truly outstanding leaders use their passion and enthusiasm as a catalyst for positive change and productivity within their organization.

  • 36% of organizations surveyed in Brandon Hall Group’s 2015 study say their leadership development practices are still below average or poor.
  • CEB reports 63% of leaders lack the required abilities to achieve success today.

Building up our current workforce into leaders of tomorrow is the step to take now to thwart the threats poor leadership brings. Feedback can be used to reinforce positive behaviors and diminish bad ones. We continue in our feedback series to our second goal: Leadership.

Take a look at how feedback and communication can enhance leadership skills. Click To Tweet

Instill Confidence

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” -Tom Peters @tom_peters

Great leaders are confident in themselves and their ability to positively affect those around them. This is one of the traits that leaves employees naturally drawn to them and excited to work for their cause. Confidence is the fundamental basis from which leadership grows, so ignoring it can have the same effect as building a house on a sand foundation. Think about some of the daily tasks of a leader. For instance, they have to deliver critical feedback in order to maintain performance. That isn’t something easily done by even the most experienced manager. A leader who lacks belief in their decisions or ability to communicate will do a disservice to the critique and employee.

If a leader is afraid to commit to decisions or communicate with a team, a business won’t flourish. Giving powerful feedback will teach and instill leadership qualities in your employees. As Lindsey Pollak (@lindseypollak), mentor and leadership expert, says:

“Leadership is not a job for commitment-phobes, and if you want to last as a leader, you’ll need to learn to make some decisions you won’t be able to reverse.”

Employee: “Sometimes I think I am too young and too low on the totem pole to be seen as a leader. Receiving a feedback critique with a Leadership indicator shows that my manager is thinking of me in a way I was unsure of before. It’s empowering!”

“Leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders.” @tom_peters @Engagiant_iRevu Click To Tweet

Manager: Globally, 53% dream of being the leader or most senior executive at their current company. While it’s impossible to have all employees fit the role of executive, it is important to inspire all employees to step up to the plate when it comes to their respective job duties. Leading isn’t always a management title, sometimes it’s the ability to push employees to take on tasks and projects. I’ve used the Leadership feature to note examples of initiative and encourage the employee to continue pushing that envelope.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell @JohnCMaxwell

Coach’ em Up

In order to create a high performing team, leaders must be able to coach employees. It’s not enough for your team to have skills. They need to be constantly looking for ways to become better in their role and it’s a leader’s duty to push them in the best direction. Just like a coach, a leader must be able to create alignment around a vision and be able to give clearly define each individual’s part in attaining the end result. It’s important to clearly articulate goals, metrics, performance drivers and even give incentives that all tie back to your end goal.

Leaders must be effective communicators. Effective communication leaves little room for misalignment and lack of commitment. Not only does communication bond a team and keep them working toward shared goals, but it also helps everyone get the best work accomplished. As leaders, setting up frequent team meetings and one on one performance reviews is crucial for success. Continuous feedback loops play critical roles in this process. Loops assure the employee is receiving what they need to do their best work, while also maintaining trust in you as a leader who is open to hearing feedback as well.

Employee: “I strive to be a leader but am not always sure what to do. How am I seen from management and how am I seen from my peers? I look forward to receiving a Leadership feedback iRevü. It’s like having a mini coaching session from my manager!”

Read more about coaching up teams here.

Manager: Sending an employee a Leadership iRevü is an opportunity to pass the specifics of what I need from the individual in order to see their career rise. I have used iRevü to begin a conversation, starting with advice on professional traits to develop and offering the chance to take on a larger role within a project. It not only allows me the opportunity to coach my employee, but it gives goals to be followed up with over time.

Frame It

It’s critical that managers are able to frame issues effectively. Framing can be a hard concept to grasp. Managers who are able to convey the big picture of a project to all aspects of the team are effective leaders.

Example: A team breaks into departments or task forces to accomplish specific parts of one large project. Each member is so focused on getting their task done, they lose sight of the bigger picture. The result is a clunky process rifled with backtracking or a final product that doesn’t meet the goal. A leader can not only communicate the end goal, but can keep all parts of the team working together, cohesively. If a leader can’t do this properly, a team may be accomplishing a small part of the project and not fully understand why they are working on it.

Employee: “I receive criticism better just because of the Leadership goal tag attached to it. I know the critique is in hopes of improving my leadership skills, so I take the feedback in a better mindset. Setting the framework of feedback is important for how it is received, absorbed and built upon.”

‘We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.” -Henry Cloud

Take a look at the @Engagiant_iRevu feedback on how employees view microfeedback v.s. managers: Click To Tweet

Manager: “Criticism is difficult to receive and, often, just as hard to give. Sometimes the reasoning behind the tough topic is lost from the very beginning, especially in sensitive situations like a job. The iRevü Leadership tag reminds my team exactly why I’m doling out constructive, real-time feedback. At the end of the day, I see potential in the recipient and it’s important to me that he or she sees that when I’m discussing hiccups.”

Read more leadership tips here

Developing Leaders of Tomorrow

Forming quality leadership attributes in our current workforce ensures sustainability for the future. Do your duty as a manager to build up and develop where you can. Not every employee is destined for a C-Suite job, but leading can come from any level of the organization. Show your employees you care enough about them and the future of the company to review them. Be a leader by developing one.

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” –Ronald Reagan


Michael Heller

Posted By Michael Heller

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