How top leaders welcome feedback

 In Body language, Delivery, Entrepreneur, Feedback, Learning from Luminaries, Luminary, Media, Mindset, News, The Winning Voice

In her book Radical Candour, on pp. 20-21, Kim Scott (linkedin.com/in/kimm4) relays the following vignette in an interaction with Sheryl Sandberg when Scott and Sandberg both worked for Google.

‘Sheryl laughed, “When you do that thing with you hand, I feel like you’re ignoring what I’m telling you. I can see I am going to have to be really direct to get to you. You are one of the smartest people I know but saying ‘um’ so much makes you sound stupid” ++

Scott’s response to Sandberg’s statement was:

‘Now THAT got my attention.’

I share this vignette to underscore what I believe are the characteristics of top performers.

Namely, they:

  • Believe talent is over rated.
  • Want to improve if only they knew how.
  • Are eager to take on feedback (even if it is given in a harsh way) and try out the feedback TO how it works.
  • Don’t make people wrong for giving them feedback.
  • Realise that even in the harshest criticism there is an element of truth.

I share these characteristics because recently a business friend recommended I give feedback to a senior executive who was a serial ‘um’ user. I was hesitant to give the feedback because I strongly concur with the W. Somerset Maugham quote:

People ask for feedback but they only want praise

And this executive didn’t even ask for the feedback. After some reflection I did deliver the feedback to the executive. It was not received well.

++ Here is recent article How counting your ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ can make you a better speaker.

Own the Conversation

Let me suggest you reflect on these points:

That you get very clear on whether you want feedback or not.

If you don’t really want it, don’t ask for it.

If you do ask for it, do so because you honestly want to hear it (even if it’s tough to hear).

Don’t ask for feedback, just because it is de rigueur.

No matter what the feedback is – respond to it first, by only saying ‘Thank you”.

Take some time to reflect on the feedback, and then decide to trial what is useful and discard what is not.

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