It’s a broad-sweeping statement but based on my experience, most leaders (heck, most people!) do not have an accurate awareness of their impact on others…not surprisingly, underestimating it. In working with hundreds of business leaders, very few understand the depth and breadth of their impact. Yes, many do have an awareness of their less positive attributes, but many do not truly understand the ramifications on the people, the business, or the culture. Disengagement, misunderstandings, fear to speak up, passive agreement…all outcomes that hit the bottom-line.
As a kid, I remember one night over dinner, my father who owned his own business, recounted a less-than-favorable interaction with “a regular”. This particular customer had come in to complain about how a random-careless-human-act had negatively impacted her experience and ultimately the product. As only three devoted and vocal daughters could do, in high-pitched hysteria we went into full-on protective mode, “how dare she…what was she thinking…that is so terrible…how mean…!!!”, when my father signaled for us to “pipe down”. He told us how she had been his best customer that day…how impressed he was that she had come in to speak to him…how grateful he was. Wait. What??! In the words of Dad, “if she hadn’t given me that feedback, I wouldn’t be able to fix my business – make it better…how would I ever know? How many other customers, who don’t say anything, would never come back in? I would have lost their business without a chance! Because of her feedback, I can improve. It was a gift.”
Hmph. Hadn’t thought of it that way. Yep, Dad reframed feedback for me. A lesson that has lasted a lifetime.
When clients get the “gift of feedback” (whether from peers, their manager, friends, their team, or their coach!), are able to put their ego on pause to really hear what is being said, and take it to heart (this is key!), they experience huge growth.
Feedback is not easy to deliver, it takes great courage to give, and is most often, intended to help. It is a gift. How to respond? No rebuttals. No defensiveness. A mere “thank-you” is appropriate.
The rest is on you.