The Power of Feedback
We're now gonna get into really the meat of the course, and my favorite topic, which is really about feedback that connects to this idea of self-awareness. And I wanna just pause slowly, so I just wanted to simplify feedback and this idea of self awareness for you. And let's just slowly go through this, 'cause it's so important. What I want you to think about is the insight that you need to be successful, is all around you. It's the people that you work with, your colleagues. These people are full of insight and observational data on you, okay? Really simple, right, we get that. Next piece, the game changing instrument for your success, believe it or not, this mechanism is called feedback. It's called feedback. And what you have to do, and what all of you online have to do as well is you just have to make the decision. The decision is, do you really want to know the truth? Some people, as I've learned, don't wanna know the truth. It's okay. You just have to make a decision if you wanna...
know the truth. And what I really hope to do as part of this lesson is by the end of this lesson, you're gonna go from feeling really apprehensive about leadership, to, I mean, not leadership but feedback, to being really excited about feedback and wanting to do it. So that's part of my intention right now is to help convince you, and to help you to make the decision that you really do wanna know the truth. 'Cause I can tell you it has so much to do with your success and the success of those around you. So what I wanna do first is I wanna provide some data. So I wanna go to the analytical side of your brain, so those of you that may be skeptical about this idea of the power of feedback. Let's go through some data and look at how important asking for feedback is. So this first piece of data comes from Zenger Folkman and what they've done is they've got a database from over 50,000 360-degree assessments. And part of what they did is they just took one item out of their assessment, and the item was, and this is the question in their assessment, which is this person asks for and acts on feedback. And what they did is they correlated the score on that one question, he asks for and acts on feedback from others, and then compared it to the overall leadership effectiveness of that leader. So if you were looking at this assessment, these questions are on a scale of one to five. So people here are getting a lot of fives, okay? And look at the correlation between this person asks for and acts on feedback from others and their leadership effectiveness. Huge correlation, so that's one data point. Let me give you another. What predicts executive success, done by Green Peak and Cornell University. They did a study where they examined 72 executives of public and private companies, 29% were CEO candidates, and performance was simplified into the ability to drive results, and the ability to manage talent. Here were the results of that study, and here it is. Interestingly, a high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall success. Let me say it again. High self-awareness was the strongest predictor of overall success, why? So this is not altogether surprising, as executives who are aware of their weaknesses are often better able to hire subordinates. So if we're really clear on what we're really good at, what we're not good at, you try to hire people to kind of fill in those gaps. Makes this really simple, right? And these leaders are also more able to entertain the idea, believe it or not, that someone on their team may have an idea that is even better than their own. So it comes from a place of humility, and also having a really accurate sense of what you're good at, maybe not so good at. And so again, this self-awareness piece as we've been talking about is really important. And I had to share this with all of you as well. I got permission from Travis Bradberry at TalentSmart to show this to you. He's the author of the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0. They've collected over one million assessment tests on emotional intelligence. And one of the things they did is they have all of these intelligence scores. What they decided to do, and this is fascinating. They lined up the score, the emotional intelligence score with job title in the organization. So again, they've got a huge data set. So, what are some observations as you look at this chart about emotional intelligence? And just to be clear right, so self-awareness is the bedrock to emotional intelligence. And so when you think of emotional intelligence, it's also around self-management. How you can regulate your own behavior with others, and also being aware of your behavior, so that's a big part of what emotional intelligence is all about. So when we look at this, and emotional intelligence and job title, what observations do you have? Yes?
Well either one of two things. It's either power blindness comes into play--
Okay, power blindness.
Or it becomes less about the people and more about the business end results.
Okay, great, what else? Any other observations as you look at this? Any of you guys surprised that CEOs, according to their study, have the lowest emotional intelligence? So let's just kind of track through this for a moment. So when we look at this, if you're an individual contributor in the organization, the organization is, what are they looking to reward and recognize? So put yourself in the shoes of the organization itself. So, you've got all this talent, right? What are you looking for? So when you've got an individual contributor, you're looking for people skills. So we start to promote these people. And so what they found was that people that are in the manager role, these middle managers, tend to have the highest emotional intelligence scores. And then something else happens next. So there's a shift in terms of what the organization is looking for, what they're also trying to promote inside the organization. So why does all of a sudden, look at this. It's like it comes down, steep line coming down to the CEO's office. So what's that about? And so what they discovered is, and if you think about it, when you get to this level in the organization, what is the organization looking for? They're looking for, typically, bottom-line results. They're promoting people for large part based on their cognitive skills inside the organization. And so, what's interesting about this, if you look at who the top performers are in any different job group, the top performers are the ones that actually have the highest level of emotional intelligence. So just keep this in context, and I thought you'd be really interested to see how self-awareness EI is actually aligned at the job level, and also as you look at these groups, the folks that are the highest performers are the ones with the highest level of EI. Okay, so what I'm gonna ask you to do, as part of my biggest request out of this entire course, is for you to do the following, which is to go ahead and ask for feedback. I call it your self-imposed 360. So what I want you to do is I want you to take this out, this is your self-imposed 360 assessment. I want you to take that out. I'm gonna explain it here in a a moment. What I want you to do is ask these questions, okay? Definitely to your manager, and definitely to your direct reports. Ask these questions, what are a few things that you believe I do really well as a leader? So this taps into what your strengths are. What is one thing I could do to become a better leader moving forward? Part of what you wanna understand is are the things I should be doing less of, more of, maybe things I should stop doing altogether, or continue doing. And is there a specific behavior that, if changed, could have the biggest impact on my or our success? So those are the three questions that I want you to ask, and this is about getting insight for you to act upon this insight to improve as a leader. So these are the three questions. And here are some keys to success as you write these questions. One is you wanna provide questions in advance. What you do not wanna do is put someone on the spot instantly and not giving them time to think about input that they can give you around helping you to improve. And so what I wanna do real quick is the one thing that I'm suggesting you do, which is part of this tool that I'm providing you is just send an email letting someone know upfront that you'd like to request this input. What I'm not suggesting is that this entire experience happens over email. So what I wanna encourage you to do is have some face-to-face with this. And so I'm just gonna read you the first part of this email so our online audience gets a sense of this, which is this. Hello team, in the spirit of continuous improvement and striving to become a better leader, I would very much appreciate your input to the questions below. That's these questions here. Please think of these questions in the context of my role, and what I need to deliver for you and the organization. So, let me ask you this question. You get this email from your boss, okay? Does your opinion of your boss go up, or does it go down? Up, yeah it probably goes way up. Why, if your manager sent this to you, why would your opinion of this person go up, and even way up? Yeah?
Because it shows respect--
Shows respect, yeah.
For my feedback and my opinion on their leadership style, on how they can become a better leader to support me and my potential growth and development.
Yeah, absolutely, yeah, what else? Any other thoughts?
Shows humility, yeah, and we're gonna be getting into some of those benefits in a moment. So these are the keys to success. One is providing these questions in advance, minimum of one day. And what you wanna do is you wanna teach people, in some ways, how to give good feedback. So how you can give good feedback is ask for feedback that is specific and observable. And also focus more in the future than the past. And if you focus, and it's called, and we're gonna be doing an exercise shortly. It's this idea of feed-forward, instead of feedback. So feed-forward is about providing ideas for the future and that's how I got into executive coaching under Marshall Goldsmith, he's the top CEO coach in the world, he wrote this iconic book called What Got You Here Won't Get You There. A lot of the things I'm gonna be teaching you today is what I've learned from him and his coaching process, and this idea of feed-forward also came from him. So I'm gonna be teaching you that in a moment. So we want feedback that is specific and observable. So someone gives you feedback around that you could be a better listener. Is that specific and is that observable? No, right, you're right, it isn't. So what does that mean? So how could we could make listening more specific and observable? What ideas do you have?
When we're having a conversation, it'd be helpful for me if you put your phone away. If you need to take a break, please let me know so I'm not distracted by you checking your email.
So yeah, when talking to others, please put your phone away and maintain eye contact. So that's specific and observable. And what you wanna do too, is make it safe for them and show appreciation. So one thing I suggest you do, because someone's gonna come to you and the truth is this is gonna be a little awkward. 'Cause you've sent them this email, what do you think's going through their mind? Like oh no, there's probably some things that I need to share to help this person. Probably what's running through their mind is are they gonna be able to handle it? And so you have to make a decision around how forthright you want others to be. And if you make the decision that you know what, I'm okay, I'm gonna let them be as candid as possible, one suggestion I have for you is before they provide input, recite feedback that maybe you've gotten in the past, which is barely heavy duty, where after you share it they say to themselves, wow, this person is serious, okay. I was gonna share this, now I'm gonna just maybe take it up a notch and really help them and share that. And last, you're gonna be getting a lot of data. So think about feedback as data. And what I want you to think about is when you collect this data, what's something that you wanna work on? You can't work on 10 things at once. So what are one or two things that you could work on to become a better leader? So take all this data in aggregate, you're gonna be looking for key themes and think about what you wanna work on. And so again, as I've shared, a lot of folks think that feedback could be really challenging. What I wanna teach you now is that actually feedback can be fun. Probably the last word that you thought was gonna come out of my mouth. So I'm gonna teach you right now what I've learned from Marshall, and this idea of feedforward. So what I want you to do, I'm gonna have you move around here in a moment, but before I do I just wanna explain the exercise. What I want you to do right now is think about something that you wanna work on, some type of interpersonal improvement. Again, maybe it's time management, maybe it's listening, whatever that is for you. Think about what you wanna work on, okay? And then what we're gonna be doing, this is gonna be like speed dating. We're gonna take a minute per person, we're gonna do three rounds of this. And what you're gonna be doing, is I'll model this for you here in a moment. So what you're gonna do is start like this. Hi, I'm Taavo, I want to do a better job of listening. Can you give me one or two ideas around what I can do to be a better listener? And so what I want you to do, is you've got two challenges here. One is learn as much as you can, and the other is around helping as much as you can. So that's what we're gonna be doing, and then after you ask for input, then you're just gonna switch there in a moment, and your partner's gonna say hey, this is what I'd like to work on. Can you give me one or two suggestions around how I can improve? And what you're gonna find, you're gonna love this exercise, we're gonna do it here in a moment. There's no reason you can't do this exercise with your team. Everyone, believe it or not, has something to work on, and we can all get better. So what I want you to do is we're gonna stay in these pairs first, then I'm gonna ask you to switch seats in a moment, so I'll give you one minute right now. Does everyone know what they wanna work on? Okay, you've got one minute, are you ready? Go.
So you want one of two things, let's say. To be non-intimidating, to me, that's a tough one.
That's a tough one.
It is, maybe become, open yourself to be more personable. And maybe telling something a little bit more personal so that they can understand you as a person instead of you as somebody coming down on them.
So mine would be, with Taavo, actually it's listening. That's what I would like to do.
Okay, and so how many direct reports do you have?
I don't have any. I choose to be an individual contributor, but I lead a lot of projects and teams.
Okay, so I think maybe starting to develop those one on one relationships. So even though you don't have direct reports, when you are managing people sitting down with them one on one.
So the online audience, do you hear the giggling, and laughing here, by the way? So on the count of three, you have one, you're gonna yell out one word about this exercise, how you describe this exercise, one word, are you ready? One, two, three, yell it out. (shouting) That was a lot of them. Go slowly, how was this exercise for you?
I thought it was very memorable.
I like personal as well.
Beneficial. So, we just did a quick ROI study right here, right? (laughter) About feedback, and you know what, it's not that bad! In fact, what I'm saying again, your success as a leader hinges on your ability to ask for, act on, solicit feedback. Here's the challenge, especially for the more senior leaders. Getting and receiving coaching is one of the biggest challenges for senior executives. Because why, the more senior you are in an organization, the less likely people are to give you input, because they're much more apprehensive, scared maybe, even, to say anything because it could potentially derail your career. However, especially if you're a senior leader and you're asking for feedback inside of an organization, inside your company, what are people gonna be saying? Wow, the senior leader just came up to me and asked me for my input, and this person's acting on it. What an unbelievable company, I love this place! Especially as a senior leader, that's the tone that you can set inside the organization. So this is, if you're a senior leader, this is even more important to ask for this. And what I've experienced when working with leaders, some of the most common developmental skills that leaders need to work on is right here. Around delegating, around building positive relationships, empowering others, focusing on key priorities. Building higher levels of trust, listening more effectively. So these are some of the most common areas that I've found that we need to work on as leaders. And I thought it'd just be helpful to provide this to you so as you're thinking, when you do collect feedback, does it land in one of these buckets, in terms of something that you wanna work on as a leader? Okay, let's do something that I've done without thousands of leaders, and I love doing this. And we're building here around how I said to you early on, you may have been apprehensive about asking for feedback. And what I'm trying to do is emotionally and also analytically help you to think about the benefits of feedback. And what I wanna do right now as a group, is let's do a cost benefit analysis around asking for feedback. So I'm gonna get this chart here, and what I want you to do is I want you to think about, you go to your team, you go to your manager, and you're asking what you do well, what you could do to improve. What are the benefits of asking for this input?
So hold on, okay we'll go slow here. So builds trust. How's my penmanship doing by the way, doing okay? What's next?
Enables growth. What else?
Maybe potentially thwarts turnover.
And thousands of dollars in training and all that goes with it.
We're really getting into an ROI right now, aren't we? All right. Avoids turnover.
Builds employee engagement, too.
Improves productivity or results, drives results.
Drives results. Anything else?
Innovation, okay! All right, so are you guys trying to tell me that asking for feedback does all these things? Is that what you're--
Not all at one time.
Not all at one time, right.
But look at the benefits of asking for feedback. There's so many. And if we went to the cost side now, what are some potential costs around asking for feedback? And what I wanna do first is just share a story with you. So I was with a group of 50, 60 senior leaders at a large company. And I went through this exercise with them. And we were going through this cost-benefit, I knew who was gonna be raising their hand first when I got to the cost side. It was this guy about eight feet away from me to the left, and he just looked really tense the entire time. And we went to the cost side. He almost seemed like he had a scowl on his face as we were going through this. He was really uncomfortable. And we went to the cost side, I can tell you, his hand went up a thousand miles an hour like. And he said the following. "I've already done a 360 assessment," the company invested in his leadership, and they did a 360 assessment. "I think this is a waste of time." Okay, to all the others. And before I could respond, the other leaders started talking about these benefits and talking about, hey, no, hey! I can't remember his name, we'll call him Bob. Bob, this is really about building a relationship with the team. And I'm gonna show you these, these are other benefits that I've uncovered from working with teams, and here's just a sample of what I learned. They started out shouting out things like this. And what's really interesting is when we talk about these benefits, is the executives themselves, the leaders I was with, they were convincing themselves in real time. Because you could look at this and say I've done a 360 assessment, and my experience with these, by the way, is you'll get it, you'll read this report about you, you'll look at it for about 15 minutes, you'll get a moment of insight and it'll go into your desk. What I'm suggesting is this isn't an Or. This can be an And to what you're doing. So it's about getting insight from multiple processes, and this is another one. And so here are some examples of some of the benefits that I've heard, and I wanna go to you now. Are there any costs that you can think of, other than this one gentleman that I just shared with you around hey, it can be a waste of time, 'cause I think I already have all the answers now, I already know about how I show up as a leader. Any other costs that you can think of, are there other costs that you can think of around maybe why you wouldn't do this?
I think if someone's, there's a readiness state that I think people need to be in. So where are you on your leadership journey, that I think there's some sensitivity that needs to come through with that. So timing, and where the person is. Are they ready to hear the feedback, are they open to the feedback, is it gonna fracture their ego, those kinds of things.
Thank you, so what you just said is so important. And for you, you have to do a readiness assessment for yourself. And you may be going through a lot right now. Maybe now's not the best time to be asking for feedback. So maybe it's something about okay I need to gear myself up, so maybe this is something I'll tackle in June. But you have to do that self-assessment work on yourself around when you're, as I mentioned earlier, you have to make the decision around if you're comfortable with the truth, if you wanna get the truth or not. And assess where your state of mind is at, and if you're really ready to hear it or not hear it. Because the last thing you wanna do is jump on this if you're not ready to hear it, and you're not ready to absorb it and accept it. Any other potential costs that come to mind, yeah?
I think it's smart to assume that it's gonna cost work and time, 'cause if you are going to act on the information that you've been given, the more prepared you are for layering that in, the less it's going to feel like additional work. And obviously the return on investment is going to be great if you're really listening and acting.
Yeah, so, a couple of thoughts come to mind as I'm listening. One is I'm saving you time, because I've written out an email for you about this process, right? So you can just do copy and paste, and modify as you need to go. And the best part about what we're talking about today is it actually doesn't take a lot of time. So if you get input that you wanna be a better listener, part of what I'm gonna be suggesting to you is you wanna check in with folks every four to six weeks or eight weeks on how you're doing on what you're working on. And if you're having a one-on-one session with someone, it's literally one or two minutes at the end of the session saying hey, I wanna thank you again for providing input. As you know I've made a decision that I'm working on becoming a better listener. And do you mind giving me some feedback on how I've done since we've last spoken, about how I've been doing on working on my listening? And by the way, do you have any suggestions for me on how I can get better the next month or two around becoming a better listener? Literally it's like a two minute conversation, and so I just wanna let you know the best part is it just doesn't take a lot of time. Anything else come to mind before we shift gears? So we've done this cost benefit analysis, and we see that there's a really strong ROI around, look at these other ones, around empowering others, builds open-mindedness. People are gonna feel valued, higher levels of trust. And of course, a big part of what we're trying to do here is to uncover a blind spot, and also demonstrate humility. The one thing that's not on this list that you may be surprised as another benefit of asking for this input. It can actually have a really big impact on speed of execution and strategy. Now why do I say that? So you've taken the step to be vulnerable around asking for this input. And what you've also done is you've established a better relationship with someone. How open and free do you think they're gonna be, if something's going wrong in the business, things are going off track. How much more likely are they gonna feel that they can surface bad news pretty fast with you, if something's not going well because you've done this? So when I talked before about this connection between feedback, self-awareness, and agility and adaptability, wow, you can move so much faster because now you've strengthened this communication channel so you're able to adapt as you're going 'cause you're getting information so much faster, cleaner, and probably much more rich in context because you've taken this step with them. Another aspect of this, and one thing I'm just so passionate about is this idea of role modeling. So by you taking this exercise on, so, so many leaders will talk about the importance of continuous improvement. What are you doing in this exercise? You're role modeling continues improvement yourself. They're watching you get better. What could be more powerful than that? So if you're doing it, isn't your expectation maybe that maybe they're inspired to go ahead and do it themselves? And if we're looking to grow the organization, then don't we need to be growing ourself? So if we're not growing, how can we possibly grow the organization? So we talked earlier about this idea of self-development and really investing in yourself. And when we think about role modeling, a really simple way to think about it is people do what people see. What Stanford researchers uncovered is about 89% of how we learn is visual. And so people learn by what they see. And so as a leader, you have to be so aware of the actions that you take, and also what are the actions that you want to scale and have others model? This is what we're talking about right now. This is one of the most important things that you can do is role modeling, feedback, continuous improvement, and getting better. And so to give you a little bit more courage, let me share another story with you, and this is a CEO I worked with. And we were talking about the culture that this person wanted to create, and we talked about type of levels of trust, transparency, continuous improvement, and high performance. And so this is a phenomenal CEO, it was the CEO of a global manufacturer. And I was so impressed by this individual because what he did after this conversation was when we thought about asking for feedback, I encouraged him to do it and he did it, is he sent a survey out to the entire company. So instead of the team providing feedback, literally the entire company. So he sent out a survey, and what the survey had was the following. And the first question was, how would you rate me on a scale of one to five as a leader and CEO in this organization? Just think about for a moment the courage that it took, and humility, for this leader to do this. That was the first question. The second question was, and you can see it, and I've already presented it, was what are some things that I do really well, and there was another question on there, what can I do to improve? And there was a fourth questions which calibrated proximity to the CEO in terms of level that someone is at in the organization so we could see the data from that perspective. So you remember how I talked about how so much of leadership is about courage, effort, and some innovation as well? So think about this for a moment. So I had this conversation with the CEO. Three days later we had a draft of the survey, it went out. Two weeks later we had all the data. So people talk about change, leading change in an organization. Again, so much of change, leading change, in leadership is about courage and effort. And so we collected the data, we looked at the data, and what I had the CEO do was actually do a video to the entire company. Because if you ask for feedback, there's an expectation that you're gonna be doing something with the feedback, that's why I've asked you to follow up with folks. And so what this particular CEO did is we did a video. And the video started just like this. The CEO goes, "Everyone in the company "gets a performance review. "Why shouldn't I?" And he went through his six month performance plan, in essence, that the company gave him. And one of the most important pieces of feedback, feedforward that this person received, was getting out of his office and go meet with global locations. And so what he's done, and it's been fantastic, is he's gotten on airplanes more to go to their global locations to find more out about what's happening with customers, people on the front line. And now he does something, and I don't wanna say his name, I wanna protect his privacy. Now he does something where every two weeks, he calls it Coffee With, and it's the CEO's name, and he does it virtually. He uses a virtual software, and it's a virtual meeting. And it's about eight employees inside the organization, and he meets with them virtually every two weeks. And this is something that you can do as well, depending on your level in the organization. And this is really about how you're able to scale insight as well, and input. And what he does is he does a five minute presentation reinforcing the company values, the strategy, mission. And then what he does is he asks for input from them around what do we need to improve in our company? What can I be doing differently, what do we need to be doing differently to become a better company? And he does this every two weeks, and it lasts about an hour and a half. He has gotten so much insight from this process that he's put into practice, that he's put into action, it's had a huge impact on the success of the organization. So just imagine that somebody that asks for input to the entire company. Now what I want you to do is I want you to think about feedback in one last way, and this is probably one of the most important things that you can do. It's the most important thing that I've done, and you have to make a decision if it's right for you. So there's the disclaimer. So feedback is great at work. It's even more important to get at home. And so what I did is I've got an 11 and a 13 year old, and also my wife. And I asked my wife, what can I do to be a better husband? I asked my kids what I could do to be a better dad. And I'm gonna tell you what I learned. When I asked my wife the question, I will be honest, I was terrified, absolutely terrified by what she was gonna share with me. I had no idea what I was about to learn. And I can tell you, I got so incredibly lucky, and this is gonna sound so stereotypical. My wife said to me, "Hey, can you please help "take out the trash and recycling more." Can you just please, in essence, can you help out more around the house? That would be great, that would make a big difference for me. So what kind of idiot would I have to be if I didn't take an extra 10 or 15 minutes to help out around the house for something that could make her a lot happier? Pretty common sense, and what I do is whenever I take out the trash and recycling I say to my wife, "Honey, I'm taking out the trash and recycling!" And I don't do it to be funny. I do it to let her know that I care. Now, talking about the vulnerable part. So totally different experience with my kids. My daughter didn't have much input for me, however what my son said to me was devastating. So I asked my son, he said, "Dad, you interrupt me all the time." So when I asked him for feedback, Bodie said, "Dad, you interrupt me all the time." And talk about a blind spot, and talk about a lack of self-awareness. I had no idea that I did that to my son. And the last thing that you wanna do as a parent is have your child feel like not only are you not listening to them, but they also feel like you know how to complete their sentences for them. Not good. And so I apologized profusely. When he told me I almost crumbled to the ground. And so what I said to my son, I said, "Bodie, I'm so sorry, Dad wants to do better." And I said, "Look, I'm gonna need your help. "If you ever feel like I'm interrupting you, "what you need to do is let me know in the moment." And this is what's important for all of you to understand too. We get into habits. And we need others' help to help break us from some of these patterns that we get into. And so I asked my son to help me. And so guess what happened the first two weeks? Dad, you're interrupting me again. Dad, you're interrupting me again. But guess what happened after about two weeks? I did a much better job of not interrupting my son. Now I still check in with him probably every three or four months, and I checked in with him recently. And I said, "Bodes, how've I been doing "about not interrupting you?" And he said, "Dad, you've been doing great, "you've been doing great." Now, I talked about role modeling earlier, and here's what's really important to understand. My son is not someone that takes feedback very well. So I can talk to him about the importance of feedback, or I can model it. And so I hope, so much of parenting, what I've learned is in leadership there isn't a huge difference. You have to think about what you wanna model, and so for my son I was trying to model feedback and actually acting on it and doing something with it. So again, great to ask at work. From my perspective, even better to ask at home. To be the best possible parent, the best possible spouse that you can be, or significant other.