The Value of Feedback

By Leaders from THE ASSOCIATED’s Center for Community Engagement & Leadership (CCEL)

Everyone talks about the importance of feedback. But what does the term really mean? Why is it useful and how do we create a culture of feedback?

Leaders are constantly striving to create an environment where every volunteer has a meaningful experience, and is given the tools necessary for success. THE ASSOCIATED has been working to make sure we are truly achieving that goal.

This year, CCEL’s Forum invited top lay and professional leaders to a three-part series with the goal of creating a culture of dialogue and feedback, one where we can help each other to be more  effective leaders. The forum was facilitated by leadership development coach Ellen Kagen Waghelstein and was a tremendous success.

The take-away? Three tips for incorporating feedback into your work as a leader.

Manage Yourself
As you are offering feedback to others, do a check on your true intent and motivation. You are ready to give feedback if your heart is open and you are focused on their success, not your opportunity to express anger and frustration.  Commit to:

  1. Letting go of the past
  2. Telling the truth
  3. Being supportive and helpful-not cynical or negative
  4. Making  sure you are focused on improvement rather than judging


Seek Feedback

Each of us has an Achilles heel, the thing that is a blind spot to us and can get in the way of our being our best leadership self. Seeking feedback that opens your eyes to those blind spots is a gift.  Feedback of this sort is not finding out what people think of you or how they feel about you or even what they like or dislike about you. There is really one fundamental question: How can I do what I do better? Listen carefully and take the feedback seriously. And continue to seek it.

Create a Feedback Culture
The best way to begin a process of culture change is to become a role model yourself. If people see that as leaders you ask for feedback regularly and are open to their feedback, without repercussions, people will begin to open up and share their thoughts honestly and thoughtfully. As you move forward in this process, be aware of the times when you have received feedback that opened your eyes to a blind spot and helped you be a better, more effective leader. Share those experiences and draw out the experiences of others. This will provide an opportunity to bring the issue to the table and encourage new behavior from everyone.

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