I recently discussed the 360-feedback process that I was engaging in with a number of clients.
Many teams & individuals use 360 feedback to support their continued growth and development. These assessments provide valuable information from a range of people. However, the information gathered represents only a snapshot in time, and seeking feedback on a more regular basis is essential.
Even though feedback is crucial, we sometimes feel reluctant to give it, and even more so to receive it from others. It feels vulnerable to open ourselves up to the thoughts and perceptions of others. We may be surprised or even stung by what we hear.
And yet, if we avoid these conversations, we are likely missing out on valuable information that could serve us in our work and lives.
Sheila Heen says that one of the challenges with feedback is that it sits at a crossroads of two human needs; the need to grow, learn and develop; and the need to be loved, valued, and appreciated just as we are.
It may feel challenging to honor both of those needs at the same time. How do we let people know that they are valued just as they are, while also offering them information or insights that may support their growth?
Some people suggest sharing a balance of positive and constructive feedback, while others say we should have a ratio of 5:1 with appreciation to constructive feedback.
I don’t know that there is a right formula, and I do know that most of us can afford to give and receive more appreciation and recognition to others. Building that “positive bank account” tends to make the more challenging conversations go more smoothly and constructive feedback easier to hear.
What has worked for you?
Do you seek feedback from others? And if so, what value have you received from this process?
How do you approach the balance of positive to constructive feedback?
What do you like to do for fun?
I love to hike. I really love hiking with a good friend and spending that time catching up.
I love to read, listen to some great music, or even a great audiobook. I also love the opportunity to learn something new and take the time to figure something out on my own.
We all like different things and the definition of fun may vary for each of us. And most people enjoy and benefit from setting time aside in our busy schedules to have a good time.
But, what do you do for fun at work? Yes, I said, "at work".
When you think of the list of priorities in your workplace, having fun may be low on that list or even missing altogether.
And yet, it plays an important role in teams and organizations.
Having fun at work boosts morale, reduces stress, and increases creativity. It also helps create connections, build trust and strengthen relationships, all of which support the development of a high-performing team.
So, what have you done for fun at work?
I’ve heard many examples from clients over the years - from team building activities, happy hour with the team after work, painting classes, and more.
People seem to enjoy spending time together and getting to know each other in a non-work-related setting. They form stronger connections and build trust which positively impacts their work together.
How might this be useful to you and your team?
Many clients tell me that in the past, making connections with co-workers felt easier. There were opportunities to have informal conversations by grabbing lunch or a coffee with a colleague, running into someone in the elevator, or chatting at the famous "water cooler".
Those informal opportunities to connect vanished for those who abruptly shifted to working remotely.
Since the start of the pandemic, people have had to become really intentional about creating connections and strengthening relationships within their teams.
How do you look at having fun together and creating that personal connection? And what are some of the ways that you have found that have worked for your group?
I look forward to hearing your ideas.
I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. It was an awesome place to grow up. As the youngest of three with two older brothers, by all accounts, I had a good childhood.
But somewhere along the road, I got the message that being “appropriate” was more important than being me.
My parents, especially my dad, indicated that I should be careful about how I was presenting myself. I needed to be aware of what others thought of me and should do my best to fit in.
There was a specific interaction with my dad that I'll never forget that really brought this home for me. It was a small moment and I took away a powerful message.
I was chewing gum, and my father said to me, “Don’t chew gum, it makes you look cheap.” He said it with a smile, and playfully - and yet - I think he meant it.
Apparently, there was an expectation of what I should do and how I should look and gum-chewing did not fit into that picture! Who knew?
I became a student of how to be appropriate. I became masterful at tuning in to what was happening around me, noticing how others were responding to my presence and behavior, and then molding myself into who I thought they wanted me to be. In almost any setting I could quickly figure out how to be appropriate.
Looking back on the gum-chewing incident, I believe my father meant well. He wanted the best for me, and as the only girl, surely I should be aware of how I was being perceived as others. I mean, that was my job, right? To look good for the family….
And there were ways in which my dad was old school. For example, when I was choosing which college to attend, he told me that surely I should enroll at Stanford because I would likely be meeting my husband there. But that’s another story.
My point is, that he likely didn’t realize the impact of his message - that this focus on nudging me to fly below the radar, to be a good girl, and to pay attention to what others thought of me would not serve me in the long run. Don’t stand out. Don’t upset people. And for goodness sake, don’t look cheap!!
Now there was a payoff to this. I was a good student, didn’t get in much trouble growing up, and I can really read a room! But there was also a cost.
The cost was my authenticity, joy and full self-expression. I tempered the real me. I held her back and closed her down in places where she was too much, too big, or not appropriate.
So, I had to relearn how to be who I really am. I had to figure out what it is that I want in my life and how I want to be.
That is likely why I am so passionate about helping others do the same and to find more aliveness, voice, and authenticity.
And it’s true, it can feel vulnerable to be yourself. Sometimes it feels easier to fit in.
Being myself feels risky because if I'm being me in all my inappropriate and appropriate ways and I get rejected, that hurts.
And yet, the price to pay to be appropriate for me was greater and was no longer serving me.
What are the places where you feel like you have molded yourself to meet someone else's expectations? What are the beliefs that are no longer serving you?
As you explore these places, I invite you to be brave in your exploration and to be kind with yourself.
Do you love to check things off your list?
I do. Sometimes I'll even write things on my list that I've already completed just so I can check them off!
It feels good to get things done. We are making progress towards our goals, cleaning up messes, following through on commitments to ourselves and others.
And yet, at work, if we move into action too quickly and don’t take the time to get in alignment with our team, we run the risk of spending our energy on solving the wrong problem or moving in the wrong direction.
Recently a client was describing a troubling trend in his organization.
His leadership team would discuss a problem, decide on a course of action, and then get into action. After a few weeks on this path, the decision would come up for discussion again and a new decision would be made, one that required new & different actions.
And this was not an isolated event, but a pattern.
This client was discouraged, feeling like he and his team had wasted weeks going down the wrong path. Again, and again.
Sometimes this has to happen as new information emerges, or we realize we need to change course. However, when it becomes a pattern, there may be a different issue at play.
For this team, though they were having conversations, they were not spending enough time to really identify the problem they were trying to solve, which meant that they were constantly wasting time solving the wrong problem.
Sometimes when we are pressured for time, the tension builds as we talk about an issue until someone insists that a decision be made so we can move into action.
And yes, action is vital. But how do we balance problem identification with action?
Einstein famously said, "If I had an hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes identifying the problem and 5 minutes solving it."
We sometimes avoid that problem identification time because we think we don’t have time for the conversations. We just want to move; we just want to get into action.
Conversations can feel messy. Sometimes they may lead to disagreements or conflicts. So to avoid this discomfort, we avoid the conversation altogether. And yet, it’s costly to waste time solving the wrong problem.
Conversations indeed take time, but everything else takes longer...
Where do you tend to just jump into action?
The next time you feel yourself wanting to rush the conversation, make a decision and move into action, consider if it might serve you to spend a little more exploring the issue and gaining alignment.
Until next time, wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Holiday. Be brave, be kind, and take good care.
Several of my clients have been engaging in the 360 feedback process recently. And I’ve been reflecting on the value of feedback and about understanding how our style is being experienced by others.
In Marshall Goldsmith’s book What Got You Here Won't Get You There, Goldsmith discusses how the skills that got us to a certain level in an organization may be different from the skills we need to get us to the next level.
But how do we really know which habits and behaviors are making us truly effective leaders and which are getting in our way? Seeking feedback is a good start.
The 360 Feedback process gives us a 360 degree view of our leadership style.
An individual participating in the process takes a self-survey and then selects evaluators (boss, peers, direct reports and others) to respond to the same questions.
When the individual receives the feedback report, they get a picture of where they are aligned with how others see them, and where there are gaps.
Gaps can show up for different reasons. One reason may be that the behaviors that took us to one level in our career may not serve us as we move to higher levels of leadership.
For example, somebody who is very driven may excel in their organization because of that drive. But when they become a leader and people manager in a more senior position, that hard-pressing drive might actually burn people out. It might feel overwhelming and unsustainable to others.
Or, it might serve someone very well in their career to be agreeable, adaptable, and easy to work with, but as they rise to a senior leadership role, this same behavior could be perceived as being too passive.
The 360 process shines a light on these gaps and belief systems, allowing the leader to gain an understanding of how they are seen by others. Informed with this data, he or she can grow and develop by building on strengths and adapting in problematic areas.
What do you know about how other people perceive you as a leader? Would it be helpful to get some feedback to see where there may be gaps in the intention of your behaviors and the impact they have on others?
Sometimes the 360 process can be scary for people because they are afraid of what they might hear or they are worried it will be hurtful.
And to that, I say that whether you are hearing the feedback or not, people are thinking it … So better to have the information and face it head on rather than be blindsided in the future.
If you would like to know more about this process and how it might benefit you in your role, let’s chat.
As Ken Blanchard is quoted as saying, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”
I had some new photos taken recently for my business and received some comments when I updated my profile picture on social media.
One of my favorite comments was, “You look so much like your mother.”
I take that as the highest compliment because I think my mom is kind of awesome.
My mom turned 81 this year and is as active, resourceful, and curious as ever. She recently announced that she had a new job and she was so excited. Every Friday she would be working in a local used bookstore where the proceeds from the sales support the local library.
My mom is a lifelong library user and fan, and the fact that she could not only do something that interests her but also be supporting the library was a perfect fit. She was given a project to organize the American History section and I know she will crush it.
My mom is not afraid to walk 36 holes of golf in a day.
She never comes to a dinner, party, or meeting without an article from a newspaper or magazine or just something of interest that she wants to share with us…
That’s my mom.
Last week I was having dinner with my mom when she announced…
“I have a project for us! We are going to fill some potholes!”
Now let me set this story up. I live in a rural part of the county, our little road is not county maintained - in fact, it's not maintained at all - and we have a lot of potholes.
My mother had clearly noticed the abundance of potholes on our street and she thinks we should do something about it!
She came across an article that described repairing potholes which inspired her to watch a YouTube video on the subject and source the necessary products.
I wasn't surprised that my mom wanted to tackle this project together, because, well, that is my mother!
She figured she would only need a couple of things. And #1 on that list would be that she needed my approval...
And of course, my response was, “Yeah! We are going to do this!" Because well... I am my mother’s daughter!
So, why am I telling you this story today?
It’s almost Thanksgiving and this is traditionally the time of year where people think deeply about gratitude.
I think about my mother and how much of who I am today is shaped by who she is. Not only in my DNA, but through her influence on my curiosity, my resourcefulness, my optimism, my full engagement, and my love of life. That’s my mom.
Who are the people who have inspired you and helped to shape who you are? And is there something you want to say to them?
Maybe like me, it’s a family member. Or perhaps a mentor, friend, or colleague.
This Thanksgiving, as we think about what we are grateful for, I encourage you to share your gratitude with the people in your life. Share the love!
Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving.
What does it mean to be a brave leader?
When I ask my clients to share examples of brave leadership in their workplace, I hear things like…
Admitting we don’t have all the answers might feel especially vulnerable. Many of us have achieved success in our work in part because of what we know - our expertise.
Perhaps like me, you grew up believing that the goal was to have all the answers. I remember as a young girl playfully saying to my dad "You don't know everything, Dad," to which he smiled and responded, "Almost."
And yet, it’s not possible for one person to know everything. There is always something to be learned.
In Dare to Lead, we explore a spectrum that ranges from being an Expert to being a Learner.
A Learner may not have all the answers, but they ask the right questions. They are curious, vulnerable and show humility in order to keep learning and growing.
The Expert wants to be right. The Learner wants to get it right.
Letting go of our certainty can help to navigate a conflict or impasse - put the certainty aside, and get truly, genuinely curious about the other person’s position. Seek first to understand.
Letting go of our expertise and getting curious is one of the ways that brave leaders show up.
The next time you feel stuck in a conversation, perhaps with both parties being certain they are right, try putting your certainty aside for a bit and get curious about the other’s position.
Until next time, be brave in your willingness to not have all the answers And be kind and generous in your listening to others.
I love improvisational theatre. Have you ever seen it? It is such a blast!
I think part of what is so fun about it is that everything is being made up in the moment. There is no planning, no prep - it’s all spontaneous.
Like me, many of you may be thinking “How do they do that? These people are brilliant!” Agreed.
Number 1 - they are incredibly courageous to get up there without a plan in front of an audience. It’s risky, exciting, and vulnerable. And #2 - good improvisers keep the action moving forward. It often feels like they are working from a script, when in fact they are not.
My husband and I have a good friend who is a brilliant improviser. He is truly world-class. One of my favorite ways to watch him work is when he performs with “3 For All”. These three incredible improvisers are magical.
So how do they do it? There are principles in improvisational theatre that make it work, and interestingly, many of the principles in improv can be applied to life.
One universal principle in improv is saying ‘yes to all offers’ or ‘Yes, and….’
Here’s how it goes. When your partner makes an offer in the form of a statement, gesture, movement, etc., the principle guides you to say YES to the offer, and then build on it. This helps the scene continue to evolve.
How that might look in improvisational theater is let’s say someone says to me, “Hey, I’ll get the fishing poles ready. Hand me that one would you?” To which I might reply, “Sure, here you go. I’m so excited. I’ve never fished for marlin before”
So I’ve said yes to their offer and I’ve added something more to build on it.
What doesn’t work so well is when someone blocks an offer. Imagine the offer as above, but instead of saying yes, I block it. Perhaps I had a brilliant idea in my head that I want us to go hang gliding in our scene…
So I say to my scene partner, “Fishing pole? I hate fishing. I’m getting my backpack on for our hang gliding lesson.”
I’ve completely blocked their offer.
Now imagine if you’re that person who I just blocked, how that might feel…. Perhaps you think “I guess that wasn’t good enough.” Or “Am I even doing this scene with this person? Is it just about what she wants to do?”
It doesn’t create a good connection or sense of teamwork, and it also seems strange to the audience because we see that an offer has been blocked.
So how is this relevant to the workplace?
The truth is… we are all improvising all the time.
We may have an idea or plan of how we want our day to go, but we can’t know the details of what will actually happen. So we improvise.
The principle of saying ‘Yes, and….’ can be applied to relationships, conversations, and meetings.
Think about how many times you have made an offer or come up with an idea… Maybe it’s just where you want to go for dinner or an idea at work about a new project you want to start.
And how many times is that met with all the reasons why that is not a good idea?
“We don’t have the budget for it.” “That sounds interesting but we don’t have the time.” “No it’s just not a good idea.”
Whatever the response is, the NO blocks the creativity of that moment.
When we can say YES to something and build on it we generate more engagement, more investment, more enthusiasm, and more creativity.
So notice, the next time you’re in a meeting, if you have the impulse to say no to something, instead of saying no, pause for a moment and see if there is something in the idea that you like and that you can build on. Even if it’s just a small part of the idea.
Saying yes allows for a more collaborative conversation. It also can help others to feel a sense of being heard and respected for their ideas. And often the end result might be a combination of a number of ideas, created together by saying yes to one another.
So give it a try - be brave, share a new idea, and be kind in your response to others.
Let’s talk about boundaries. Ugh. Right? Why is it so hard?
It's a simple enough concept - have a sense of what is ok and not ok, and communicate that to others. Then hold firm to that choice (assuming that is what you want) no matter what the reaction.
So why is it so challenging for so many of us?
The need to set boundaries appears in all areas of our lives. Maybe its boundaries with someone in your family - your mother, partner, kids…
Maybe you need to set more boundaries at work. Boundaries about texting after hours, when to shut off your email. Maybe even boundaries with your boss…
Whatever it is, we swear to ourselves that we are going to do better with our boundaries...And yet, when push comes to shove, many of us are not so great at it.
For me, I often struggle with holding a boundary when the person on the other side of it doesn’t like it.
A while back I decided to take a stand with a colleague about something that was really important to me. I felt clear and I felt confident. But when I shared it - well she clearly didn't like it. Though she said it was ok with her, I could tell that she was not happy. Perhaps you have experienced something similar...
So what did I do?
I caved in… I just let it go.
I said, "No, never mind. I can drop it. It’s not a big deal.”
But the problem is that it was a big deal. To me.
Ultimately I was more willing to disappoint myself than to disappoint someone else. And when I disappointed myself, I felt resentful that I was doing something that wasn’t right for me. Sound familiar?
Where do you struggle with boundaries? Is it at work? At home? With friends or family?
For me, it’s all of the above.
When I first started intentionally setting boundaries, they were like steel walls. I had been so accustomed to abandoning myself to please others that I needed to swing too far in the other direction in order to find my balance.
Today I try to be clear and kind in communicating what’s ok and what’s not ok. And I pay attention to which boundaries are essential to my well-being and which might be more flexible and permeable.
What works for you? How are you able to set a boundary and hold it, even when others don’t like it?
Are you a perfectionist?
Maybe this sounds familiar to you...
You are about to send out a report to your boss and you think to yourself, I just need to read through it one more time (for the 50th time…). Surely I’m going to find one more typo or something I should phrase differently.
Or maybe you work all weekend tweaking the font on your presentation and making tiny adjustments. You want it to be perfect.
For me, perfectionism often takes the form of that voice in my head telling me “You should have said this instead of that. What you said was dumb.” or “You could have done that better.”
Perfectionism is about looking outward for approval. The story we tell ourselves is that if I’m perfect, I can protect myself from criticism and judgment. And there's the fear of failing, of not being the best, of looking awkward or...imperfect.
Perfectionism keeps our worlds small.
When that perfectionist voice is driving me, the things that I may be willing to try, or the risks I am willing to take, become fewer and fewer as my world becomes smaller and smaller. The perfectionist voice says, “I don’t really know how to do that, that’s new to me. If I try it I might not do it perfectly so better just not try.”
Do you relate to this?
I have a client who had been in her previous role for about 20 years. She was really great at that job and said to me, “I’m a top performer. I like to win.”
And then she moved to a new role. Though exciting and filled with possibilities, it was a difficult transition for her. She felt anxious. She had to learn new skills and processes, ones with which she was not familiar.
She was accustomed to being the best at what she did and with her new role it felt to her like she was starting over. The risk she was taking to learn something new felt threatening because the perfectionist was afraid of what others might think if she was imperfect.
If we let that perfectionism voice drive us, then we don’t allow ourselves the opportunity to learn, develop and grow.
It takes courage to try something new. It's vulnerable - there's potentially risk, uncertainty, or emotional exposure involved. And there is also the potential for joy, aliveness, and growth.
Try something new. Be imperfect. Be curious. Embrace being a learner and find out what’s possible.
Katie is a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator and Executive Coach.