I admire head coaches whose players say that they "always know where they stand" with their coach and what the expectations are. This is a leadership skill, albeit a tough one for me in practice. Too often, I suspect my "empathy gene" (or is it fear of conflict?) pushes me to water down my feedback to the point where it is not helpful to the recipient. As I reflect back on examples; however, I can see that my approach does not give my colleagues enough credit for their ability to accept honest feedback and hopefully grow from it.
One of our firm's cultural tenets is "Be Honest But Compassionate." As a leader I have tried to put this into practice, with varying degrees of success. Hopefully the next time I have the opportunity to provide honest feedback, I'll remember the perspective of the teammates who appreciates always knowing where they stand. Wish me luck.
The ability to provide feedback is an essential leadership skill and a crucial part of communication. Leaders who are skilled in giving feedback in a specific, caring and confident manner build more vulnerable relationships and become highly respected over time.