I’d like to give you some feedback….

Barb Krantz Taylor | July 18, 2023 | Blog | 2 minute read

What did you feel when you read this title? If you are like most of us, it brought up feelings. And likely not the pleasant kind…

Well, I’ve been giving feedback to clients for the entire 35 years that I’ve been a coach. Often, it’s positive. I get to point out “wins”, celebrate risk taking, new learning, improving skills, facing life’s difficult moments head on, and leaning into situations someone previously avoided. There are a multitude of accomplishments—big and small—that I witness in my clients. That’s a great part of my job. It’s always appreciated and it matters.

And, I also get to provide “critical” feedback…pointing out inconsistent thought processes, mismatched intent and action, and mistakes that all of us inevitably make. And, this isn’t always so fun. I have heard the phrase that “feedback is a gift” but for most of us, I call bs*** on that one. This gift may be ultimately useful but, in my experience, it isn’t not one that the receiver really, truly WANTS. The anticipation of negative feedback (via an end of year review, a “We need to talk” conversation, or a 360 assessment) feels well, full of dread.

Is it necessary for executives to know how others perceive them—even if it’s unfair and/or undeserved? Yes, it is better than being in the dark about it. After all, you may not HEAR what people are saying but they are saying it to others.

Even when the feedback is accurate and ultimately helps someone grow, the moment it is actually received—and the moments before it is actually delivered, feels emotionally fraught. And, make no mistakes, even for those of us with healthy egos, it is difficult.

I have been told I do a good job of keeping my clients whole while delivering my own observations or the observations of others. My clients tell me I have been successful helping them hear “hard stuff” that allows them to process it emotionally and intellectually and learn what they need to learn.

I am often thanked by clients for leading them to new levels of awareness and insight—that lead to more successful leadership efforts.

However, I also know negative feedback hurts… Delivered poorly, it causes embarrassment, shame, guilt, anger. Delivered well, it will ultimately help you become a better leader, but it still stings. I know that I never forget how it feels to receive it. I also know most of us heal from negative feedback. I have come to believe that as an executive, the ability to take and learn from negative feedback is a necessary leadership competency.

So, this blog is a thank you to my clients for being brave enough to hear what others think of you. It’s kudos to my clients for making changes as a result of the feedback that has bettered their relationships with others and led to greater leadership success. Your resilience is inspiring.