The Power of Feedback in Leadership Development

giving and receiving feedback“One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change. Personal change is a reflection of our inner growth and empowerment.”
– Robert E. Quinn

Getting feedback may not always feel comfortable but it’s definitely a powerful ally and gift in the leadership journey.  Regardless of whether its formal or informal feedback – it invariably enables us to consider things which may previously have been out of our sight, even a blind spot.

The insights received from feedback leads us to adapt, modify or change a perceived behavior flaw resulting in improved performance and greater positive impact.

Feedback on our strengths is an even greater enabler.  It helps us leverage and maximise our strengths for even greater results.

And ultimately it helps us grow as people.

Joseph Folkman addresses 35 principles for turning feedback into personal and professional change in his very easy to read and highly recommended book “The power of feedback.” 

Here is a random list of 12 from his 35 principles:

1) If you receive feedback but do not change for the better, you will be perceived more negatively than if you had not received the feedback.
2) Balancing your normal but counterproductive reactions to feedback is essential in effectively dealing with feedback.
3) The process of change begins with accepting the feedback given.
4) To change the impression another person has of you, you must change your behavior.
5) The most critical skill in making change based on feedback is deciding what specific issue to work on first.
6) We tend to perceive the reasons for our failure as having to do with the situation, but we see failure in others as having to do with their effort, ability, knowledge or character.
7) One way of improving a skill is to improve your performance in companion skills.
8) Doing something well has a dramatic impact on perceived effectiveness.
9) A critical step in personal change is to change the strategies, structures and systems that support or reinforce the behavior you desire to change.
10) Close observation of others who have demonstrated skills will help you develop the same skills.
11) Rewarding successive approximations of a desired new behavior increases the likelihood of acquiring the new behavior.
12) You can only make significant life changes if you have the necessary desire, strength, and motivation to cause those changes to happen.

Three questions for your reflection:

As you look ahead at your leadership development, ask yourself:

1) What is a skill if you developed would have the biggest impact in your current role?

2) What is a skill if you developed would have the biggest impact in your leadership journey?

3) What is a skill if you developed would have the biggest impact on your family life?

Companion skills

Keep in mind the following eight companion skills that the author and his colleague Jack Zenger found in their research on people who were most effective at making change:

Passion and willingness to make a difference
Accepts feedback
Shows concern and consideration for others
Develops others
Establishes clear goals and priorities

Which of these companion skills could you embrace further?

“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have—and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.” 
– James Belasco and Ralph Stayer 


Jasbindar Singh is a coaching psychologist working with business leaders to be even more effective. Clients value her sensitive and confidential approach to eliciting qualitative 180 and 360 degree feedback which has helped them forge ahead in their leadership.

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