This opening line by Hamlet in William Shakespeare’s play is probably one of the most widely known soliloquy in literature.
To be or not to be, that is the question?
Back in 2000 Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones wrote a Harvard Business Review article titled “Why would anyone want to be led by you? Being a full-fledged fan of self-awareness and having both designed and delivered 360 feedback instruments for more years than I can remember, this question sparks many insights into leader’s value proposition.
Interestingly, when I ask a similar question in coaching sessions with executives, “What kind of leader do you want to be for others?” a full range of aspirations come through which may or may not necessarily be how they are being perceived by others, and this is where the transformation begins, at a cognitive, behavioural and emotional level. That alignment of who I want to be as a leader and how I am perceived by others takes the conversation to another level, going from aspiration to realisation.
Therefore, the importance of feedback in a leader’s career, so the question is how often do you ask for feedback? And more importantly, what do you do with that feedback? Despite having worked with 360 instruments for years, I am a true believer they would cease to exist if organisations had a solid feedback culture. However, in many organisations we are not there yet. Why, despite all the numerous training efforts in developing people in organisations to provide feedback it is still a pending assignment? If we understand that feedback is a critical element in any walk of life, at both a personal and professional level, why are we not doing more of it? Organisations are constantly hungry for client feedback to improve their customers experience, satisfaction and retention amongst other reasons, launching surveys and even discounts to obtaining responses. They continuously search for client’s opinions published on social media and reviews of their websites; how can we not not request feedback to improve on our own self-development?
My hypothesis refers back to what Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson research findings and defines as Psychological Safety, “a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.” How psychologically safe do people feel to give and receive feedback? How can organisations intentionally create this space on an ongoing basis vis a vis wait for it all to boil down to that one yearly performance review conversation? How am I being or not being that leader, I want to be? That is the question.
Rebecca Fanger – Senior Facilitator, Clear Connection UK Ltd