Leadership Lesson: Feedback- The Key To Improvement

In the past week, I received feedback from two of my former colleagues which were quite encouraging. One was from a former colleague that we worked together around 2009. Her call was totally unexpected.
She asked if I recall asking her to watch the movie Akeelah The Bee one day when we had a chat at work. I honestly couldn’t recollect. She told me that she never heard about the movie until that time but she took my challenge and saw the movie.
She was so impressed that she asked her daughter to watch the movie also. In her words, that was the first time she heard of the Spelling Bee competition. Her daughter was so inspired by the movie that she entered the Spelling Bee competition in her school and prepared rigorously
She won and represented her school in the Lagos State competition.
She went very far in the overall Lagos competition but didn’t win. Nevertheless, she was hooked on personal development from that point.
I listened with rapt attention as my former colleague gave me details about how the daughter would correct her pronunciation at home and was very fastidious about her work.
It was a very emotional mother who told me that the daughter is now in Harvard University and she just wanted to thank me for that seed sown while we worked together. Both of us almost broke down in tears during that conversation that spanned almost 30 minutes.
I didn’t know that a seed sown during a conversation at work would lead to a massive harvest many years later. She actually asked me to post this.
A few days before that conversation but within the same week, I received a voice note from another former colleague. I was shocked because I didn’t expect such feedback from her.
Part of her voice note was that she missed my monthly meetings and wanted to appreciate me for all she learnt during that time. It was a lengthy voice note that made me sit in my car for several minutes after I listened to it. I thanked her profusely for the feedback.
While the two examples above are positive, if you desire to improve on your leadership, you must be open to receive all manners of feedback from your colleagues, subordinates and supervisors. Quite often, I call on a few of my colleagues at work to give me feedback after meetings
On one occasion, I was told, “Oga, stop yelling”. That was quite a feedback for me and I’m working on it consciously. I recall my Pastor would always say that if you have to raise your voice to drive home a point, that’s poor leadership.
A policeman who is conscious of his authority does not need to yell at a car to stop. All he needs to do is to wave his hand. On another occasion, another colleague asked me to be more patient. I understand I can be very impatient especially when I need to get a task done.
I’m working on that area too as I see the need to show more understanding with colleagues who don’t have the level of experience that I do. I’ve been on this job for 20 years and I shouldn’t expect the same level of expertise from one who has just done the same job for 5 years.
We must encourage feedback from people who work with us as that will help us improve on our leadership at all levels. Develop a culture where your people will be comfortable voicing their opinions and providing you with feedback without recriminations.
If they know you’ll come after them if they provide honest feedback, they’ll feed you with lies and kill your leadership capacity. This is the reason so many are surrounded by only ‘yes’ men. They only want to hear what suits their fancy. You won’t go far this way.
One of the beautiful things about where I work is that when you appraise your subordinates, they also appraise you. You’ll be given this feedback without you knowing who said what. I always take notes when this feedback is shared with me and I use this for my personal improvement
Leadership that will cut deep should understand the importance of feedback as a tool for an overall improvement of the organization.

Bayo Adeyinka

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