Feedback is an Act of Leadership

We want to deliver great work. We cannot do it alone. Sure, our investment of time, energy, and money matters, but at the end of the day, our great work is inherently communal. Nobody succeeds alone.

Now think of that person who calls a spade a spade with you—I hope very much you have at least one—and the growth you experience because of that relationship. People who tell us what they think we want to hear don’t move us forward. Friends who tell us what we need to hear are catalytic. Cultivate those relationships.

Feedback is an act of leadership. Feedback that is constructive moves our thinking and our behaviors forward. It also challenges the one providing the feedback to think critically, observe carefully, and craft feedback that is clear and compassionate.

Feedback can be either in person or in writing … but it is never anonymous. Anonymous feedback is a shield or something. You’re putting yourself on the line just like you’re putting them on it….

Students who push back asking why the feedback cannot be anonymous always hear the same response: we need to learn how to deliver feedback in person because we will not always have the opportunity to do it anonymously. If you are conditioned to think of feedback as something that is delivered without your name attached to it, it changes the way you respond to feedback that is transparent.

You cannot build a relationship with someone you do not know.
Anonymous feedback maintains a detachment between the
the messenger.
The unknown trumps any pearls of wisdom that are revealed.

The magic in transparent feedback
is this formula:
The Care Taken + The Spirit Received = Lessons Learned

Feedback is a critical opportunity for building trust-based relationships and why would you want to miss that? Strong feedback can express solidarity, show empathy, shower praise, and be a gift of forthright honesty.

Feedback is often seen through the lens of improving the receiver, but it also changes the one delivering the feedback. The tone and the framing is all part of the feedback process.

Feedback asks you to have an opinion, and for some, this can prove challenging. We need to make feedback personal, but not take it personally. There is a difference. Feedback does not diminish a person’s sense of their own worth. It is always offered in the spirit of two-way learning.

In our age of anonymous online comment sections, everyone wants to have an opinion but not everyone wants own their words. We need to resist this temptation and see the benefit of transparent feedback for both those we provide it for, as well as our own development as engaged members of a community.

We have grown too attached to anonymous feedback.
Feedback should not preen at a masquerade ball
When it can belt out the words on a spotlit stage.
But we relegate feedback too often to the shadows.
It need not live there.

The false expectation is that feedback is hard to hear
So we detach our names to make the swallow easier.
To give and to receive.
But this creates a one-way exchange.
And I want a two-lane highway to drive.

Feedback is hard to hear, if we make it so.
This involves both the message and the messenger.
If offered in a spirit of
the feedback will reflect this sentiment.
And what a shame that this type of feedback
be linked to an unknown entity?

Feedback doesn’t have to be positive to build trust.
Feedback must be helpful to build trust.
And you cannot build trust with no name attached.
You cannot develop a relationship with only words, no person.

So please.
I need a movement.
I want a Take Back Feedback.
Make the default transparent.
Relish the name attached to your words
Knowing that its very presence is a win for everyone:
You own your words.
They read your words.
We all rise together.

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