Survival of the Fittest: Feedback is not for Sissies

It is not the most intelligent of the species that survive the longest,  it is the most adaptable.” — Charles Darwin

In order to be persistently successful, people and organizations need to adapt
continually to their environment. This requires information from the
environment. The more open the feedback loops, the more effective the adaptation
and change can be. Few leaders have truly open and honest feedback within their

CEO disease : not seeing the impact a leader’s mood has on the organization.

Symptom : when the leader has near-total ignorance about how his or her mood and
actions appear to the organization.

Sometimes there is fear in sharing information due to a leader’s style. People
do not want to be shot as the messenger. Many people want to appear upbeat and
optimistic and do not want to deliver negative information. Whatever the
motives, the result is a leader who only has partial information about what’s
going on around him.

How should leaders seek out the truth? It is clear that it is up to leaders to
actively cultivate feedback if they are to acquire the information they need to
make changes.

Executives who work intensely with an executive coach understand how much effort
this can take.

Receptivity to feedback is clearly an important gateway to learning and
practicing strategies for personal improvement. Staying out of defensive modes
is essential to moving on and practicing new behaviors. These strategies are not
easy and work best when guided by an experienced coach. Unless leaders get data
about the quality and effectiveness of their interactions, they become prisoners
of the status quo.

Important concepts in this article:

CEO disease
Lack of reliable feedback at the top
Successful leaders seek out negative feedback
Using 360-degree assessments
Looking at the gap between ideal and real
Feedback That Works
Seeking out learning opportunities and practice
Practicing with an executive coach
Leadership Styles in a Nutshell
Resources on Feedback and Emotional Competencies

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