Ask, Accept, & Adjust

The ABC's of Feedback ... Part 1

When you were learning to read, the first thing your teacher introduced you to was the alphabet. The ABC’s served as the building blocks for you to ultimately handle reading books.

Feedback is similar to reading in that there are practices and mindsets that need to be in place for you to be a pace setting leader. I call these the ABC’s of feedback. Today let’s look at three A’s.

1. Ask Questions. There is an old saying, “If you want someone to know something … tell them.” It works both ways. If you want to know what someone is thinking … ask them. Unfortunately, most leaders avoid feedback. They rarely, if ever, ask those closest to them how things are going. Insecurity, unawareness, and arrogance can all lead to avoidance.

When seeking feedback the best place to start is by asking the right questions. Questions like:

  • How am I doing?
  • What three things am I doing well?
  • What three things could I do better?
  • What is the number one thing I could stop doing to be more effective?
  • What is one thing you would like to see me start doing?
  • What do you need from me?
  • What is the first thing you would change if you were the leader of our organization?

These questions and many more will give you a clearer picture of your current reality.

2. Accept Answers. If you are going to ask, you need to be open to what you will hear. In other words, listen … really listen. Rarely do leaders master the skill of listening. Too often they fall into the temptation of trying to make a point. There is so much to be gained when we lock in on what others are saying, especially those who are in the trenches. You have two ears for a reason. Use them.

Once feedback is shared, work hard to not put up a wall. Nothing will shut down feedback quicker than a leader who is overly sensitive or defensive. While answers need to be considered and weighed for their validity, the best time for that is later, not on the spot. When someone takes the risk of telling you what they believe to be true, work hard to create space and foster trust by listening intently. A great practice is to thank the person giving the feedback and resist the temptation to argue or explain. Once feedback is received, find a place to be alone and process what has been said. See the feedback as a gift and value the person who gave it. High performance organizations are environments where truth is freely shared and valued.

3. Adjust Behavior. Once you have filtered the feedback, make adjustments as needed. The goal of feedback is to give you a plan to pursue progress. Leaders who positively set the pace are always reaching for great. They are willing to leave good behind. If you want others to improve their performance, lead the way by seeking to continually improve yours. A readiness to adjust behavior will show the team you are serious about feedback and lead to an environment where excellence is the target for everyone.

Feedback is about more than asking, accepting, and adjusting. Those are things any leader can do to lead to progress. But there are also things we need to be if we are to find feedback wherever we go … and those B’s will be the focus of tomorrow’s post.

Leadership Begins at Home,


Which of the three A’s is the most challenging for you as a leader?

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How are You Doing?

Have you ever considered why the best athletes in the world all have coaches? It is because of the power of feedback.

The same is true for musicians, singers, dancers, gymnasts, and even executives. You would think if someone was considered the best in their field, they would have very little to learn from an outsider, yet the best always look to someone to help them hone their craft. Why? Because coaching gives them a way to receive immediate feedback on how they are doing and what they can do to improve.

As a leader, few things will help you make progress toward your target like allowing those you work with full access to review your performance. Just as a blood pressure cuff measures your physical vitals, feedback is a built in reality check that will give you a glimpse into the health and vitality of your personal effectiveness as a leader. But it is one thing to believe feedback is important. It is another thing entirely to go and seek it out.

Over the next couple of days I will share with you my ABC’s of Feedback. In the mean time, find someone you trust today and ask, “How am I doing?”

Leadership Begins at Home,


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Are You Attacking Your Dreams?

“You will never passively find what you don’t actively pursue.” Last week, I heard those words from a speaker who was talking about the blessing of freedom. While I’m grateful for freedom as much as the next guy, his words served as a great reminder of the need for initiative.

The willingness to go after your dream is a must. Unfortunately, too many people sit back and hope for their dreams. I’ve said it before, hope is not a strategy. Battles are won when leaders go into attack mode.

As you enter a new week do you have a top priority identified? I hope so. But a priority is not enough. Why? Because “You will never passively find what you don’t actively pursue.”

Leadership Begins at Home,


What is your top priority for October and what will you do to actively pursue it?

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Great Leaders Consistently Work on Their Character

Never does a day go by that I don’t think about working on my character.

The truth is, I think about my character even more than I do my conduct. Why? Because, through the years, I have discovered that my character always determines conduct.

Whether you call it character and conduct, or as I like to say, integrity and influence, if you want to change the things you do, look in the mirror and start with who you are.


As a kid, like many of you, whenever it was report card time, my parents would always ask the same question first. “What is your conduct grade?” Never did they ask, “How did you do in math?” Never, “Did you bring up your science grade?”

It was always, “Let me see your conduct grade.”

The reason? They knew my conduct was a reflection of my character.

So how is your conduct grade these days?

The answer to that question is not simply a reflection of what you do. It is an indicator of who you are.

Why not start with the one in the mirror and work on your character today? I know I plan to.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What happens when leaders focus more on conduct than they do character?

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