Improving leadership through feedback | © Fola Daniel Adelesi

I mentioned in my last post that good leaders can take feedback. It is also very important to note that it is not just about taking the feedback but doing something with it. There are so many organisations who leaders say they encourage feedback but nothing is done with the feedback. There are so many leaders who also claim to have listening ears but they just listen and do nothing with all the things they listen to.
If you are already a leader or you are on your way to becoming a leader, you have to bear in mind that one of the things your followers will respect you for is how well you take their feedback and improve your leadership style using the feedback they have given you.
The people you are leading certainly don’t expect you to know it all just as no one does. When you talk to them about having a team spirit and you don’t let them talk when you talk then they start wondering what their roles are in the team. When they also try to let you see that they have not been allowed to say anything and you are still not letting them say it then there will be troubles.
Feedback is a major issue with so many leaders and in different organisations. So you need to see the importance of feed for you to succeed as a leader. You will not only think and accept that feedback is good but you can use it to improve. Remember that improving how you operate is one of the major purposes of feedback.
What are you supposed to do as a leader? Some of them include:
1. Have an open feedback system. It’s important for everyone to know how, where and when they can provide feedback for you without being intimidated. If the feedback system is not open or transparent enough your team members or followers will think you are creating a caucus or even using ‘divide and rule.’
2. Make sure everyone is allowed to talk. Don’t say there are some people who have been selected and those are the only ones who can provide feedback. You may also end up creating the impression you’ve bought those people over. Even if that does not come in, some will still feel they are not adequately represented.
3. Read or make sure you get all the feedback regardless of the platform. Reading the feedback is not just to impress the people who sent them in so you can prove to them that you read it all. It is usually for your own good. Remember we emphasized that you get the feedback for the purpose of improving leadership.
4. Respond to feedback. When you get the feedback you are also to respond to them. You may not be the one responding to all the feedback in person but you can have a template for anyone who will respond on your behalf. If you have open meetings with the entire team you may choose such platforms to respond. In responding you need to outline steps you intend to take or are already taking to act on complaints or feedback provided. And make sure you do what you say you will do. Don’t say what you don’t mean and always mean what you say.
5. Publish some of the feedback. It might be important to publish the feedback you are getting but without the identity of those who sent them in. why is this important? Sometimes you are not the only one who needs to act on the feedback. There are some kinds of feedback that will require the entire team to act upon. Some may not affect all but a good number of the team will need it so let them all see what to improve on from time to time.
Now that is for taking the feedback but here’s what you need to do to actually use the feedback:
1. Review your feedback in preparing the strategy to lead your followers. Sometimes you will only learn how to lead your people better from the feedback they are going to provide.
2. Let the improvements around the organisation or within your team reflect their feedback. Team members or followers are always happy to see that what they suggested is being put to use. This does not mean that you as the leader do not know what to do. You are just being smart enough to give them a voice in the team. When they know they have a voice then you can win their loyalty and commitment to the team.
3. Thank them for the feedback they provided and ask for more. Don’t pay li service but if their feedback has been useful, let them know how it has been useful and be humble enough to tell them to keep it coming.
4. Pick some of those providing the feedback and let them be involved in the feedback review process. This is simply giving them a sense of responsibility. It will also make them see that you truly want their feedback and are committed to using their feedback in the process of leading them.
Why would you not want to use feedback as a leader? When things go wrong you get blame and when they go well you get the praise! So use the feedback that can save things from going wrong and ultimately make the people you are leading happier and offer you more commitment.

Fola Daniel Adelesi
Edible Pen.
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