Lost feedback

Did you ever miss a point someone tried to give you? Perhaps you thought it was a random suggestion and swatted it away with a quick rejection, or with justification of the excellence of your position. I wonder if that was lost feedback.

Several years ago, I was facing losses from a recession in the construction industry. I heard a lot of suggestions about how to maintain our profitability. There was a lot of pressure on me as the CEO to make the right decisions to keep us profitable. In hindsight, I rejected some suggestions because I couldn’t see how to implement them. Instead of asking for help understanding how we could pursue that strategy, I moved on. Because I was in charge, and can I say, usually made really good decisions, my team didn’t push back as hard as they should have. Alas, that was before I joined Vistage.

Once I became a Vistage Member and was challenged by my peers about my assumptions, I became a better leader. I taught my team to challenge me and each other for the benefit of our joint future. I see VIstage members today who are not bringing the rigor of challenge into their companies.  This is not to say that they don’t challenge their team, the issue is they don’t listen to feedback and accept challenge about how they are running the company.

If you don’t make it safe for your team to give you feedback, you will lose the secret sauce that makes companies highly profitable. If you want a simple exercise to get feedback, ask your executive team to complete the following Start, Stop Continue exercise and then truly listen to understand.

What should I start doing, that I am not doing now?

What should I stop doing?

What should I continue doing?

If you have 5 people in the executive team, and they feel safe to be honest, you will get a beautiful gift. You must handle that gift with loving care. Gently ask for clarification so you understand the context for the comments. Then go off and figure how to implement the suggestions that would make you a better leader. If you need help, ask your peers, your family and your friends.

Who you are shows up everywhere you go.