4 Reasons Why Feedback Is Essential for Leadership

If you have ever played a sport, you probably know all about the importance of follow-through.

Coaches preach about it all the time: Golfers need the proper follow through in order to perfect their drives and putts. Basketball players must have the correct form and positioning and footing on their free throws in order to increase their percentages and optimize their form. Hockey players are constantly told by their coaches to follow through on their shots to achieve maximum accuracy and power.

Follow-through is critical for those who participate in athletics, and it is also crucial for effective leadership. But for leaders, follow through is not about making a shot or completing a pass; it’s about the consistency of following up with others – and themselves – after a task has been completed. Mostly, it’s all about feedback.

In my opinion, giving and receiving feedback effectively is just as important for leaders as follow-through is for athletes. Without it, leaders alienate their people and often leave loose threads hanging. Objectives become stalled and communication can grind to a halt. But when feedback is conveyed and received regularly, engagement rises, productivity increases, and organizations become more closely aligned with the values that make them unique.

The world’s most successful athletes understand the vital importance of follow-through: Without it, they don’t make their shots or perform at the optimal level. Leaders need to take the same approach when it comes to feedback. Essentially, no task is complete, no objective is reached, and no successes can be experienced unless – and until – feedback has been given and received.

As a leader, you know that communication is the cornerstone of effective leadership. However, you must understand that communication is an ongoing process. It’s not about occasional conversations, either; it’s all about a continuous discussion that happens within your organization. And you must be the one to drive the dialogue. That means giving feedback regularly, in addition to being open to receiving feedback about your performance. That might seem scary, but if you want to take your leadership and your organization to the next level, it is crucial that you create a culture of feedback.

To further illustrate my point, here are some of the major reasons why feedback is essential for effective leadership today:

#1 – Feedback Boosts Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is a major concern for today’s leaders. Sadly, many leaders don’t know where or how to begin when it comes to enhancing engagement among employees. So, they end up spending valuable resources and time on initiatives that don’t move the needle at all. And that leaves them right where they started – at Square One.

Here’s a secret: if you want to see engagement levels rise quickly and sustainably, creating a culture of communication and feedback will get you to where you want to be.

The truth is that most employees desire feedback from their leaders. Contrary to popular belief, they are not afraid of feedback; rather, they crave it and become disappointed when they don’t receive it. When managers maintain consistent communication and provide valuable feedback on a regular basis employee engagement levels rise. Giving feedback regularly also primes employees to be more communicative with leaders and each other. This is how organizational cultures can change for the better.

#2 – Feedback Makes Employees More Motivated

Keeping team members motivated is an ongoing struggle for some leaders, and I suspect that  those leaders probably aren’t using feedback effectively.

Employees who are made to grind away day after day without receiving feedback can begin to feel alienated and unimportant. As a result, their motivation tends to disappear, which leads to reduced productivity and the overall quality of work.

Leaders who practice giving and receiving feedback on a regular basis notice that their employees are more motivated. They understand the importance of their work, and they know their superiors care about what they are doing. Motivated employees are not only more productive, they are also much happier and engaged.

#3 – Feedback Makes Career Development Possible

Your job as a leader is to steer the ship. But it’s just as important for you to ensure that others are there to rise into positions of leadership. One of the most critical things you do for your organization is to develop the careers of the people you lead and that is just not possible without feedback.

The people on your team have professional goals, aspirations and desires of their own. Many of them intend to develop their careers in ways that groom them for management and the promise of larger responsibilities. This is what makes organizations stay successful over the course of years and even decades. However, none of this type of development is possible unless leaders like you know how to give and receive feedback.

#4 – Feedback Helps Leaders Lead Better

In terms of feedback, your primary role will be to provide it to others. Leaders also need to be open to receiving feedback, if they want to truly create a culture of communication.

Your people may not feel comfortable giving you feedback, which is why you need to make a point to ask for it. Encouraging feedback helps your team members open up and voice their opinions about your leadership. It gives them the opportunity to convey what works for them  and what doesn’t work, in terms of your leadership.

Of course, it’s up to you to implement the feedback you receive in ways that show your people that you are listening. When you do this effectively, you show your team members that you are there for them and that your leadership is not about you; it’s about making the organization run as smoothly and productively as possible.

Feedback Is a Cheap, Effective Tool That Is Always Available

There really are no good reasons to avoid creating a culture of communication and feedback within your organization. Feedback is a powerful tool that provides real results and creates a strong and productive organizational culture. And the best part? It costs you or your organization nothing! You don’t need to overhaul policies and procedures. You don’t need to consider large restructuring initiatives. You simply need to talk to your people on a consistent, continuous basis.

This is what follow-through looks like in the world of leadership. So, if you’re looking for ways to improve your leadership “game,” you should focus on the way you give and receive feedback.

Stay Tuned for More Insights on Feedback and Leadership

Because feedback is so vitally important for effective leadership these days, I want to take a little more time to cover the subject.

Next week I’ll be tackling the issue of balance when it comes to feedback. Constant praise isn’t helpful, nor is constant criticism, regardless of how constructive it may be. There is a line you must draw in order to ensure that your feedback leads to the desired results. It’s a tricky one, but you can find the proper balance if you take the time and effort to work at it.

In the meantime, I would love to hear your stories of how feedback is used within your organization. Does your leadership style and approach value communication and feedback? Or do you struggle to making feedback a priority? I am interested in learning what it’s like for you, so please feel free to contact me at 1.855.871.3374 or via email at joanne@leadersedgeinc.ca.

See you next week!

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