The Feedback Primer Part 5: Making the Abstract Tangible – 3 Example Feedback Loops for Your Consideration

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After spending much of this Feedback Primer saturated in abstract concepts about feedback, I want to offer some tangible ideas to consider moving forward. My hope is that by sharing three examples of organizational feedback loops, we can see how all the concepts introduced in this Primer so far integrate to materialize quality developmental feedback for ourselves as leaders, and for our people. More importantly, I hope sharing these examples inspires and equips leaders to create their own. Adopting these examples is certainly feasible, but I challenge you, as leaders, to think how you can adapt them to best fit your team’s specific needs, contexts, and restrictions.

As you read through the examples, pay attention to the diversity of the feedback loop dynamics (from part 4) and how leaders can practice the nuances of giving and receiving feedback well within them (offered in part 2). Continue reading → The Feedback Primer Part 5: Making the Abstract Tangible – 3 Example Feedback Loops for Your Consideration

The Feedback Primer Part 4: Innovating Feedback Across Your Team

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Through our openness to and desire for feedback from others as a leader (addressed in part 3), we have hopefully begun to inspire others to do the same. Following this, it is time we expand these efforts to a collective level. We, the leaders, must create feedback loops for our people and team. We must own and innovate mechanisms to allow feedback to permeate throughout the team; we are not merely victims of our organizational circumstances and should not wait for “them at corporate” or “higher” to create these systems for us. Such feedback loops within the team do require some creativity, leader time investment, and commitment – but it is possible with resources that are universally available. We can start this now. Continue reading → The Feedback Primer Part 4: Innovating Feedback Across Your Team

The Feedback Primer Part 1: Let’s Start with Why

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It all comes back to feedback.

This simple truth is the capstone of what I’ve learned while being in my own “leadership arena” over the last two years. You’re not feeling satisfied or engaged at work? It likely stems from a lack of feedback on your work revealing the impacts of your efforts. Surprised and disappointed by your recent annual evaluation marks? This is a novel feeling because your supervisors failed to provide relevant, consistent, and constructive feedback over time. Is our team not meeting performance metrics or is just plain mediocre? It’s likely because we have not integrated accountability and feedback in our routine ways of doing business on the team.

Recently, I had a Cadet that I mentor share with me his dissatisfaction with the unclear methods of distributing evaluation marks (referencing organizational justice) across his company, the lack of supervisor engagement with subordinates, and the overall lack of feedback occurring across the chain of command. He truly didn’t even care about his subpar evaluation score. Simply, he stated, “Sir, I just want more feedback.”

I think we can all relate. Looking back on my own 10-year Army career so far, I can count the number of times I felt that I have received quality and relevant constructive feedback on one hand. Clearly, that is not sufficient for sustained leader growth and improvement.

Bottom line: we as humans and as leaders suck at feedback. We suck at giving others feedback and we suck at receiving feedback from others. We need to get better in actually doing it (the act of routinely giving and receiving feedback) and at doing it well (ensuring our feedback is high-quality). Improvement requires education, commitment, and repetition. I hope this primer provides you the education necessary to equip and inspire you to “get in the feedback arena” with your people, commit, and begin the important life-long journey of mastering feedback to improve your own leadership effectiveness as well as your peoples’ and team’s performance. Continue reading → The Feedback Primer Part 1: Let’s Start with Why

Three Quick Points to Mentor Your New, Emerging Leaders

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By Joshua Trimble

Bringing new members into formal leadership roles on your team is always exciting, but also comes with leader challenges for you. Let’s consider a few situations: It’s time to sit down with your new team leader and counsel them on what you expect of them now that they are in a leadership position. Or think about newly appointed junior officers who may have read several leadership books; what information can you give them in a counseling session that they can easily remember or is relevant? Or, maybe you just hired a new leader to the team and you want to give them a “quick reference guide” on how you expect leaders act on your team.

There is a plethora of literature available about leadership and characteristics of good leaders. But, when you are working on improving your own leadership skills, have you ever thought about how you might mentor young, emerging leaders within your team? People will reference things that are easy to remember and if you can explain something in three quick and easy points, your chances of making a lasting and effective impression increase. The US Army tried this very approach with Be-Know-Do, but you may want to provide your new leaders with more than a bumper sticker.

The culture of your team must resonate with your first level of leaders, and you want to provide them a foundation for success for them, their team, and the organization at large. What three priority leadership characteristics should you offer in that initial counseling that will set them up for success as an emerging leader and give them a path toward becoming their own great leader? Continue reading → Three Quick Points to Mentor Your New, Emerging Leaders

Feedback: An Acquired Taste

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By Bethany Nunnery, USMA Cadet

Our expressions of ‘an acquired taste’ are usually associated with complex food and drinks. However, diving deeper into the definition of an acquired taste, we find that it can incorporate many other things. A simple online definition search reports that an acquired taste is an appreciation for something unlikely to be enjoyed by a person who has not had substantial exposure to it. Feedback, I would argue, is an example of an acquired taste. Feedback is often unappreciated by many, especially when it is constructive, but with increased exposure to high quality feedback we can eventually begin to enjoy the value feedback brings. In this post, we explore why constructive feedback is so difficult, why it’s important, and how we increase our genuine appreciation for it. Continue reading → Feedback: An Acquired Taste

Words Matter – The Importance of Our Language as Leaders

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If I were to define my “leadership philosophy,” or maybe the top three ways I prefer to lead, I’d articulate it as: leading with love; generating high engagement across the team; and creating clarity for everyone on who we are, what we do, and why we do it. It’s easy to see how important effective communication and use of clear language are when trying to live out that philosophy each day.

Moreover, a mentor of mine taught me years ago: “use precise words precisely.”

While my amateur writing my not live up to those standards, I’m sure all can see that the bottom line is: our language is a critical component to our effectiveness as leaders and developers of other leaders. Even the details of how we structure a question, statement, or word choice can have meaningful impacts. Continue reading → Words Matter – The Importance of Our Language as Leaders

The Emotional Side of Leadership: Why You Need to Care About Emotional Intelligence & What to do About It

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Recently, I listened to a seasoned Command Sergeant Major, who was new to his senior enlisted leader billet, lecture a room of Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs; predominantly Sergeant First Classes with 11-17 years in the Army) on his leadership philosophy. His #1 point: emotional intelligence is paramount. While I could not agree more, I could tell the impact of his words were a bit lost on the audience because many NCOs in the room did not know what he meant by “emotional intelligence.” I think numerous formal and informal leaders can relate; this is a complex and often confusing concept. It’s important we clarify emotional intelligence for leaders. It drastically amplifies our leadership impact on our people.

What is “Emotional Intelligence” and Why Do I Need to Care About It?

Emotional intelligence (also referred to EQ – emotional quotient) has two sides to consider. First, it is our capacity to be aware of, control, and express our own emotions appropriately. Second, it our ability to handle relationships with others well; this involves those “squishy” topics like empathy.

Simply, EQ is what enables us to best leverage or control our emotions in our thinking, decision-making, and how we interact with others as leaders. We can probably look at our past experiences as leaders and recall a particular moment when we should have better regulated our emotions and, conversely, times when injecting a bit of our emotion into a situation positively contributed to the outcome or impact. Continue reading → The Emotional Side of Leadership: Why You Need to Care About Emotional Intelligence & What to do About It

We Need to Talk About Our Peoples’ Engagement at Work

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Would you confidently state that your people are highly and consistently engaged at work? I think many of us would naturally respond with yes, myself included, but we unfortunately see too many data points that prove otherwise.

Within my military experience, I’ve found that the #1 identifier on how engaged Soldiers are with their work and training at any given time is counting the number of cell phones currently out distracting them from training, work, and the unit’s mission. This is a universal problem though; we can walk into any large business within any industry and see similar disengagement challenges. During my recent holiday travels, I was fascinated to see the extent of employee disengagement that permeated across multiple airports.

The bottom line is that many of our people are not actively engaged in their work or committed to our team or organization. In Gallup’s 2017 State of the Global Workplace report, only 15% of employees worldwide are engage in their jobs.

That’s a problem. And it’s a leadership challenge. Continue reading → We Need to Talk About Our Peoples’ Engagement at Work

The Five Types of Developmental Communication

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Any time I interact with someone I lead, I see it as a deliberately developmental opportunity. Through our interaction(s), I aim to grow their knowledge, skills, and/or abilities in some way. Any time I am communicating as a leader, I am engaging in one of five types of developmental communication: setting expectations, giving feedback, teaching, coaching, or mentoring.

I leverage the appropriate type based on the person, the situation, and context. Should I be giving targeted feedback in this moment or should I be helping them better understand by providing perspective as a mentor? Should I set clear expectations or would it be better to coach them through determining their own ideas and plans?

These types can be applied at the individual level (one-on-one) or collective (to a small group, your whole team, etc.). Further, these can all be done in formal or informal settings. For example, feedback can be given formally in a scheduled meeting where you provide planned and thought-out feedback on performance for an evaluation report. Or, it can be offered informally in the moment if someone is failing to meet basic standards or expectations.

As leaders, we must determine and enact the most appropriate type of developmental communication to maximize our peoples’ effectiveness and growth. Continue reading → The Five Types of Developmental Communication

Shared Leadership Series: Developing and Diagnosing Your Team

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This is the 4th and final part of the Shared Leadership Series.

Patrick Lencioni states in his book, Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, that teamwork comes down to courage and persistence. Both are required to enact the things explored in this series as we build and lead effective teams; doing so is incredibly hard, often emotional, and always takes a lot of time. But teamwork remains one of the most sustainable competitive advantages that have been largely untapped in organizations. Lencioni asserts that “as difficult as teamwork is to measure and achieve, its power cannot be denied. When people come together and set aside their individual needs for the good of the whole, they can accomplish what might have looked impossible on paper.”

Through this series, we’ve addressed several important aspects of team development and performance ranging from being clear on a team’s outcomes, to psychological safety, and team cohesion and use of power. If you have not checked out the previous parts of this Shared Leadership Series, I encourage you to start with part 1 here.

Now, I want to end the series by packaging the different topics of shared leadership and team effectiveness into a singular, coherent model to help us better analyze and implement these ideas within our own teams. The GRPI Model of team development, originally offered by Richard Beckhard in 1972, is a great way to mentally organize important aspects of our teams’ development and performance. Continue reading → Shared Leadership Series: Developing and Diagnosing Your Team