The Paradox of Feedback

This week I had the privilege of conducting leadership development training with a talented group of managers. One of the topics we discussed was feedback. It was one of our most robust discussions and I’ll share some of the ideas we discussed with you today.

Feedback is a paradox because we all want it…but only if we like it. This is why the question “Do you like my new haircut” is fraught with danger! If we respond with a ‘yes’, we usually tell the person what they want to hear. When we respond with a hesitant ‘no’ we can encounter their disappointment, anger or hurt. Our desire for honest feedback is often conditional.

In their book, Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen help us understand why this occurs. They note that people have two basic human needs:

  1. The need to learn and grow and,
  2. The need to be respected, accepted, and loved the way I am now.

Feedback is a great way to learn and grow. For example, my golf swing has improved lately because of some simple feedback that I was given related to my stance when I hit the ball. I want to improve my game (learn and grow) so this feedback was important, valuable and beneficial.

However, sometimes feedback conflicts with our second need. When I was fired by our new president I was given tremendous opportunity to learn and grow (see Why Getting Fired is a Good Thing). But I could not begin to understand this because I faced a wall that told me I was no longer respected or accepted by the organization I had given my all to.

In short, we want feedback unless it bumps into our need to feel respected, accepted and loved. Understanding these two simple needs can help us filter the feedback we receive. Feedback which only meets need number one is easy! However, when feedback bumps into need number two we must assess the causes of our anxiety. Not all feedback is good feedback. But even when it isn’t, we can use it to learn and grow.


 

Jeff Head Shot 3.jpgDr. Jeff Suderman is a lifelong learner, consultant, professor and pracademic who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman

20 More Quotable Quotes from the Global Leadership Summit 2015 Part II

Today’s post contains 20 more great quotes from speakers at the Global Leadership Summit last week. If you missed the first post you can access it here.

  1. Art isn’t about drawing; it’s about learning to see. What organization doesn’t need this ability? Ed Catmull (Pixar Pictures)
  2. Talent can get you to the top but only character will keep you there. Craig Groeschel
  3. We don’t hire people we select people. This is the first step to employing caring people. Horst Schultze
  4. In a growing company you are under-qualified every day. Liz Wiseman
  5. When God asks you a question, remember that it’s not because he doesn’t know the answer. Sam Adeyemi
  6. I don’t want a job I am qualified for because then I’d have nothing to learn! Work satisfaction increases as our level of work challenge increases. Liz Wiseman
  7. Whenever we delegate tasks we create followers. When we delegate authority we develop leaders. Craig Groeschel
  8. No one can claim superiority over another human being. Horst Schultze
  9. When we professionally linger too long on a plateau a little part of ourselves dies. Liz Wiseman
  10. You cannot do leadership without a source of regenerative strength. What is your source? Bill Hybels
  11. It is immoral to hire people to perform a function. I hire them to join my dream. Horst Schultze
  12. The rookie zone is powerful because we don’t like it. As a result, we work hard to reduce the tension. This produces great results, ones which are often beyond the expected capacity of a rookie. Liz Wiseman
  13. As an organization changes your mindset as a leader also has to change. This becomes the lid to you organization. Whenever my organization starts to settle I believe I have to lift my lid, my capacity I have to think and act in a different way to achieve different results. Craig Groeschel
  14. Signs that your performance is at a plateau | the remedy to your plateau:
    – Things are running smoothly | Throw away your notes.
    – You already have the answers | Become the one who asks the questions.
    – You get positive feedback | Admit what you don’t know to others.
    – You’ve become the mentor | Let someone else lead.
    – You’re busy but bored | It’s time to disqualify yourself and put yourself at the bottom of a learning curve.  Liz Wiseman
  15. The five C’s of expanding your capacity.
    Build your confidence.
    2. Expand your connections.
    3. Improve your competence.
    4. Strengthen your character. If character is not strengthening your capacity is weakening. We need to check our leadership for leaks.
    5. Increase your commitment.

Sheila Heen, co-author of the book Thanks for the Feedback provided my favorite session. I have grouped her quotes as they flow best together.

  1. We each have two human needs: To learn and grow & to be respected, accepted and loved the way you are. Even though feedback facilitates learning and growth, it conflicts with our need to feel respected. This is a key reason we resist feedback. Sheila Heen
  1. The fastest way for an organization to improve feedback is for the leader to personally model it. Sheila Heen
  2. There are three kinds of feedback and organizations must utilize all three to be effective:
    Evaluation. This rates you against standards and peers. It lets you know where you stand.
    2. Coaching. This information helps you get better and learn. It is an engine for learning.
    3. Appreciation. Most desire for feedback is usually for appreciation. It motivates us. Sheila Heen
  3. 93% of employees feel underappreciated. When work gets difficult, appreciation is the first thing to drop. Sheila Henn
  4. Evaluation and coaching get tangled together. When this occurs, the noise of evaluation drowns out coaching efforts. Think of this like a term paper. When you get your assignment grade back (evaluation) you tend to tune out the professor notes in the margins (coaching) if the grade is higher or lower than expected. Sheila Heen

 

Head Shot

Dr. Jeff Suderman is a leader-in-process, consultant and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman

20 Quotable Quotes from the Global Leadership Summit 2015 Part I

Last week I had the privilege of attending the annual two-day Global Leadership Summit (via video feed). I was impressed by the depth of speakers, the quality of the content and the level of personal challenge that I encountered. In order to pass along the goodness, today’s blog contains 20 of my favorite quotes.

  1. True leadership only exists if people follow what they have the freedom to not follow. James McGregor Burns.
  2. If you show me who you are being influenced by I will show you what you are becoming. Craig Groeschel
  3. Dissatisfied customers are reputation terrorists. Horst Schultze
  4. I am not failing – I am growing! Do you have the ability to reframe failure as growth in order to achieve your goals? Jim Collins
  5. We all have strengths, weaknesses and blind spots. In fact, an average person has 3.4 blind spots. Bill Hybels
  6. Other people have all kinds of information about you that is invisible to you. How do you get feedback? Sheila Heen
  7. Complacency is a stealthy thing. It enters our house as a guest and then it acts as the host before it becomes our master. Liz Wiseman
  8. If leaders don’t have an antidote for fear they will be crushed by it. What is your antidote? Bill Hybels
  9. The consequence of following you should hold the promise of positive life change for those who do so. Sam Adeyemi
  10. Many leadership problems are driven by low self-awareness. Bill Hybels
  11. Creative leadership impact increases in your 50’s. When I turn 50 I want to say, “Nice start!” Jim Collins
  12. It is not the absence of money that makes you poor. It is the absence of vision and ideas. Sam Adeyemi
  13. If you have a charismatic cause you don’t need to be a charismatic leader. Jim Collins
  14. How can you succeed by helping others succeed? We succeed at our very best only when we help others succeed. Jim Collins
  15. Effective leaders have grit. Grit development demands difficulty. The archenemy of grit is ease. Billy Hybels
  16. Be rigorous about your HR decisions. There is a difference between rigorous and ruthless. Jim Collins.
  17. Sometimes our organizations don’t grow because our leader fails to believe in the abilities of their followers. Liz Wiseman
  18. Leadership grit begets grit. Lead by example. Bill Hybels
  19. Your brain does not understand what you are capable of. There is way more inside of you than you can imagine. Craig Groeschel
  20. Don’t take care of your career. Take care of your people. They will take care of your career. Jim Collins

Later this week I will post part II. Stay tuned for 20 more great quotes…


 

Head Shot

Dr. Jeff Suderman is a leader-in-process, consultant and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman