The Behavior Leaders Fail at Most

The research of Kouzes and Posner indicates that seeking feedback is the behavior leaders fail at the most.*

intentions matter to you.png

Useful feedback enables you to compare self-perception with the perception of others. Experience shows that the gap is often surprising and uncomfortable.

The more authority you have, the less likely you seek or listen to feedback. You wrongly believe you’re above this essential exercise. As time passes, you settle into comfortable leadership ruts.

Feedback enables leaders to tap untapped potential. Without feedback you may do well. But, if you seek and listen to feedback, you’ll do better.

3 Challenges for seeking and receiving feedback:

  1. The need to appear like you have it all together.
  2. Finding someone with courage to tell you the truth with your best interest at heart.
  3. Rejecting the voice of your own gut in order to test the instincts of others.

Seek feedback:

Ask specific questions about behaviors.

“How am I doing?” invites general feedback. On the other hand, “How is my hands-off approaching working with you,” invites specific useful feedback.

  1. What did you think I was trying to accomplish when …? Don’t tell people what you were doing. Ask them.
  2. What am I doing that helps you connect to organizational values and mission?
  3. What am I doing that enhances your performance? Hinders?
  4. When am I most effective? Least effective?
  5. How am I enhancing the performance of teams?

Intentions matter to you. Behaviors matter to others.

Respond to feedback:

  1. The first response to feedback is always the same. Thank you.
  2. Say, “Tell me more.”
  3. Ask, “What do you suggest?”

The pursuit of excellence requires feedback that describes, affirms, challenges, and improves specific behaviors.

What might leaders do to solicit useful feedback?

What are some useful responses to feedback?

*The Leadership Challenge