Feedback is Your Companion: How to Gather Helpful Information as a Senior Leader

Feedback is Your Companion: How to Gather Helpful Information as a Senior Leader

ceo executive coach spiritual advisor frisco mckinney

I have been walking alongside a Chief of Staff in their first year in their role and we are crafting a 90-day plan to gather feedback from his colleagues, board, peers, and the CEO. The role of a Chief of Staff is dynamic, complicated, and energizing.

The Chief of Staff is a high-capacity leader entrusted to carry out a strong vision, build the team, and be a trusted advisor to the CEO.

The role depends on high trust, visibility, and being relationally connected in meaningful ways to help guard the CEO of their time and act as a safe person who carries out a strategic plan through the senior team.

We have worked to develop a plan that builds relationships, gathers feedback, and sets the stage for the long-term health of the entire team.

Why does this matter to you?

Feedback is your greatest companion, yet few high-level leaders intentionally seek out feedback. Feedback is a compass that helps one navigate the team to higher levels of executive functioning and allows the one receiving feedback to sit in a posture of humility while modeling to the team how to have healthy relationships with one another.

Often feedback falls on a continuum of being too late or standard operating procedure to pacify the team. This particular Chief of Staff is being proactive and taking complete ownership of setting up his tenure to be shaped by feedback.

Four Reasons Why Feedback is the Life Blood

  1. Insightful Reflection: Constructive feedback offers a mirror to one’s actions, enabling leaders to reflect on their decisions, communication style, and overall effectiveness.
  1. Enhanced Self-Awareness: Understanding strengths and areas for improvement cultivates heightened self-awareness, a cornerstone of effective leadership.
  1. Catalyst for Growth: Through feedback, executives identify opportunities to grow professionally, addressing gaps and honing skills crucial for their role.
  1. Team Cohesion: A culture that values feedback nurtures trust and collaboration among team members, fostering a more cohesive and productive environment.

Crafting Your Year-One Feedback Plan

The following are a few guidelines to help facilitate the feedback process.

  1. Establish Check-Ins: Schedule one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders over the next 90 days. These discussions should delve into performance, goals, challenges, and opportunities.
  1. Create a Safe Feedback Environment: Foster a culture where feedback is constructive, specific, and openly received. This encourages open dialogue and mitigates defensiveness.
  1. Holistic Perspective: Feedback from the top offers a panoramic view of the organization’s dynamics, market positioning, and future challenges. Executives gain a broader understanding of their role in driving success.
  1. Executive Presence Refinement: High-level feedback aids in refining executive presence, influencing skills, and stakeholder management. This refinement is crucial for impactful leadership on a broader scale.

Ken Blanchard is a renowned leader and coach who once said, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” In my personal experience, your leadership will rise when you are proactive in creating a system to receive your feedback before the organization sets up a plan on your behalf. There is a way to create long-term health in a senior leadership team and build solid relationships through feedback.

The same is true in our relationships at home. Ask your spouse, children, and peers for feedback and listen without defense, rebuttal, or blaming. Ask a few questions. Say thank you and clarify by asking, “What else?” This allows the receiver to practice emotional awareness and the skill of equanimity.

In closing, if you are not receiving any feedback this is a dangerous place to be. This signals that people do not believe in you and demonstrates a posture of pride toxic to being a whole-hearted leader.

The path forward with feedback as your companion is sincere humility and gratitude.