6 Steps to Sustainable Leadership: Feedback Mechanisms


Have you ever heard anything like this at your office or workplace:

“How dare Roberto tell ME that I could do better? He just wants to get all the credit and attention after we do all the work!  He actually left Rosita out of our meeting yesterday!  Wait until I tell her about this, she is going to love this!”

Sound familiar?

Can You Hear Me Now?

Unless the supervisor implements a feedback mechanism with appropriate coaching and tools, feedback can actually hinder relationships and performance.

Worse yet, if the supervisor does not endorse feedback, conflict can cause the staff to bring out the worse from one another and hinder the team’s ability to succeed.

Here is an example of how collusion can affect business when Rosita and Roberto get into it:

Not very sustainable, is it?

Getting and Receiving

While sharing honoring feedback is a key factor in managing conflict, delivering and receiving feedback requires practice, patience and, very often, forgiveness.

I have found that delivering feedback in a non-judgmental way can be very difficult, and this makes feedback preparation and coaching extremely important for all team members.

As hard as it is to prepare and deliver honoring feedback, it can be even harder to receive feedback and learn from it.

Proceed with Caution….

Successful feedback is almost impossible to accomplish when there is a low level of trust and high level of fear among team members.  More than likely, if we are in conflict with someone who is attempting to deliver feedback to us, we will be judging that person during the entire dialog.

It is critical for the supervisor to understand this and proactively address this situation.

Policy of Honesty

Honest and non-judging feedback is a vital part of our efforts to learn about ourselves and about each other.  It is also an area in which “one step forward, two steps back” scenarios are likely.

The supervisor must understand the risks involved in this process and provide coaching and tools to help all team members succeed when sharing or receiving feedback.

Depending on the types of issues the team is facing, this process can be extremely complicated to initiate.

The supervisor must be very cautious and work closely with Human Resources for advice and support.

Start at the Top

An effective tactic for supervisors in the implementation of a feedback mechanism is to invite feedback from all staff members.  The supervisor must make sure everyone knows that the intent is to help the supervisor be more effective and to learn from everyone in the team.

It is important to stress that this needs to be a respectful session, and the supervisor must be prepared to actively listen while avoiding becoming defensive.

If this is done appropriately, the supervisor has an opportunity to “model the way” to receive feedback for every team member.  The supervisor can then hold a team meeting and report a summary of the feedback he or she received to the whole staff.

During this meeting, the supervisor can also share his or her plans to address that feedback.

Proceeding With Caution

Again, proceed with caution.  Authority can be a strong temptation to distort the feedback provided and enter into collusion. If the supervisor gets defensive and starts justifying actions during the feedback session, then the wrong example will be set.

If the supervisor can’t do what is being asked of others, how can the supervisor expect team members to receive feedback with an open mind and positive attitude?

“Model the way” and do what you ask of others.

Demonstrating Leadership

If done correctly, the supervisor can demonstrate how the feedback process can be a strategic part of the team’s ability to develop trust, learn from its members, and deliver outstanding results.  The supervisor can show how asking for feedback, listening actively, and finding ways to improve can grow trust in the team and improve performance.

If the supervisor’s leadership begins to improve based on feedback from staff members, employees will recognize the effort.

Unfortunately, what I often see are supervisors that ask staff members to do something they don’t do themselves.
Check out Rosita and Roberto part 2 to see how a supervisor can help team members avoid conflict with focused coaching and helpful tools:

Setting the Example

By setting the example, providing tools and coaching, the supervisor can put a feedback mechanism in place that leverages all the strategies I have covered in my previous 5 articles.

Strength themes, team balance, safety and trust, growing the sphere of influence, and maintaining harmony can all be used in the feedback process

Rubber to the Road

I will be on the road this summer and fall as part of GIVE Leadership’s 2012 Sustainable Leadership Tour, speaking to students and staff at college campuses, community centers and organizations.

My goal is to share the tools and techniques featured in this article series to leaders interested in improving the quality of their leadership and strategically managing their most precious resource:  their people.

More information on the tour can be found on my site www.giveleadership.com

I look forward to writing more articles from the experiences I encounter on the road.  I hope these articles are helpful and promote the fact that people are resources that must be lead strategically.


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Al Gonzalez is Founding Partner at GIVE Leadership
He helps clients develop trust and leverage the strengths of all team members
Email | LinkedIn |  Twitter | Web

Image Sources:  blog.rockthepost.com

4 responses to “6 Steps to Sustainable Leadership: Feedback Mechanisms

  1. Pingback: Poor leadership verses great leadership.·

  2. Trust in the workplace is one of the most important prerequisites for highly productive and cohesive teams. It appears that the GIVE Leadership Institute has a highly intentional way of creating and building trusting relationships within professional teams that are essential for growing any mission! By going top-down, at times, teams will learn expectations as they are actually modeled by leadership. This is a very transparent way of building trust. There is a theme of necessary humility that comes into play. If leaders can adopt this tactic, I am certain that great things will happen for the entire team…we know that the “Do as I say, not as I do” form of leadership is no longer applicable….especially as the job market is heating up in many sectors, employee retention will become a larger challenge. Leading this way, will likely provide for opportunities to retain better employees with grounded practices in trust building. It has been said, that employees do not leave companies, they leave managers. That said, I would find myself far less likely to leave a manager I fully trusted!


    • Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment Eric. I totally agree, “do as I say, not as I do” does not cut it anymore and I am certain it has a big impact on the current level of employee disengagement that has been uncovered in current research. Leaders need to look in the mirror and model the way to quote Barry Posner.

      Thanks again!



  3. Pingback: When There Is Trust…The Dollars Flow « Linked 2 Leadership·

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