The Value of Authentic Feedback

May 12th, 2009

Akaya Windwood

President's Welcome

Over the years I’ve gotten plenty of feedback, not all of it uplifting and easy to hear. While I like to think that I have been gracious and thankful for it, I know that’s not consistently been the case. Actually, I have been known to get a bit grouchy when given difficult feedback, especially when it is offered in a mean spirited way, or with the intention to belittle.

Nonetheless, I know that I cannot be an effective leader if I don’t receive and even seek out information about the impact of my leadership on others. I can only improve when folks take the time and make the effort to let me know how I’m doing. I need to hear about what I am doing well, as well as how I can do better.

The challenge for many of us in leadership is that we either get too much feedback (sometimes inauthentic because of the power we are perceived to hold, or often in the form of complaints) or none at all. The ability to give and receive authentic, compassionate feedback is a key 21st century leadership skill.

Rockwood has also gotten a lot of feedback, both glowing and critical. Occasionally we are reminded of the few trainings we've held that, despite being planned with the best intentions, ended up as “trainwrecks". We have also gotten many kudos over the years. We solicit feedback and evaluation after every training event, and we take it all very seriously.

But what we really want to know is--has YOUR experience at Rockwood had lasting effect? And if so, how? We've decided now is the time for us to take a deep dive, and see how we’ve done over time. To that end, we are engaged in a large scale third-party evaluation that will be complete in June.

Hopefully most of you have been approached by email to participate in the evaluation, but if we’ve missed a few of you, or if you've been too busy to get to it, we’d really appreciate your taking the time (about 15 minutes or so) to respond to our questions. For those of you who have already responded, thanks. If you haven’t, we really want to know – how are we doing?

We hope, among the key skills you took away from your Rockwood experience, that you still practice giving honest and productive feedback. Compassionate, authentic feedback is always a gift – both to the receiver and the one who offers it. As we get more skilled at it, our work gets better, and our world gets better. It is as necessary to good leadership as is water to our bodies. So please practice with us now!

And, if it has been awhile since you’ve gotten feedback on your leadership, it might just be time for you to ask for some. Ask someone whose thinking you respect, and whose heart you trust. How are you doing?

If it there is feedback you need to offer and have been putting off, this is a good time to make a commitment to offering it. Remember to speak truthfully and from the heart. Speak to what you appreciate as well as to what might need to change. We’re all the better for it.

So thanks – thanks for taking the time to give Rockwood feedback. We need it. We really want to be the best we can be.

May 2009

Leadership Insight: Partnership

One of the five core practices of the Art of Leadership is Partnership. After all, we're all in this together, right? Without the skills to really hear one another, a partnership, regardless of whether it is professional or personal, will not blossom or grow. Please take this opportunity to practice your Deep Listening, with the following practice from Rockwood's co-Founder and trainer, Robert Gass.

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