Feedback Phobia: Take the First Step

feedbackA month ago, I encouraged you to attend the Master Class led by Todd Davis, Chief People Officer at FranklinCovey.

It was totally no surprise that member feedback on the session was quite positive. Here’s a sample:

  • “Great review of true leadership.”
  • “Very influential and eye-opening.”
  • “This lecture, in my opinion, would be helpful to every leader whether new or experienced.”
  • “Keep up the great work.  I find the Master Classes both enjoyable and helpful.”

The session was filled with many important points on effective relationships. For me, what I found eye-opening was the way Todd explained what he calls Make it Safe to Tell the Truth. Seeking out feedback is a common trait of the most successful people Todd knows. He calls it “their breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

But most people avoid feedback.


Because it’s scary.

No matter how powerful one may be, we’re all vulnerable, and we try to avoid criticism – because it hurts. It’s understandable to feel that way, but Todd advises feedback is vital to healthy relationships.

The first step is to make it safe for people to give you feedback. He suggests:

Making it safe by:

A.) Assuming good intent. People really do just want to help.

B.) Asking for feedback. It’s all about the way we ask. You’ve got to prepare them in advance to answer these three questions:

  1. What am I doing well?
  2. What’s getting in the way of me doing better?
  3. Specifically, what can I do differently? 

C.) Evaluate and act on the feedback. You do not have to implement everything you’re told. Select some suggestions to work on. Trying to do too much never works. Follow-up with the person providing feedback and thank them for their suggestions, and identify which aspects of their feedback you will focus on better developing within yourself. Attempt to secure their promise to revisit the conversation in the future to evaluate how you’re doing.

The great leaders thrive on feedback, constantly tweaking and making the adjustments that are necessary to evolve from good to great. It can really be challenging to get out of one’s own way, but seeking out a third-party perspective will make all the difference. Just make sure when you do ask for feedback you do not have an agenda, become defensive or try and deflect observations you don’t agree with.

I had this portion of the program made into an excerpt so you can hear Todd talk about these concepts in his own words. Enjoy!

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson is ExecuNet's president and chief economist. An Arjay Miller Scholar, Mark received his MBA from Stanford University and a BA in economics from Yale University. He joined ExecuNet in 1993, with extensive marketing and new product and business development experience, having served as president and founder of A&M Associates, an investment management firm. Mark's corporate leadership experience includes several senior marketing and financial positions with RCA Global Communications (a GE subsidiary) and American Can Company.

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