Champion Leadership Tip #47: Great Leaders Seek and Listen to Feedback

Back in the 80s when Ed Koch was Mayor of New York City he became famous for asking people he’d meet around the city, “How am I doing?” He was sincerely interested in what people thought of the job he was doing.

On Friday I facilitated a workshop for a regional sales team for a large regional bank in my area.

In setting up the program much of our initial discussion focused on wanting to “motivate” his team to finish strong in the 4th quarter and keep their focus and energy going in what’s been a challenging year due to the economy.

But, I knew the last thing the sales team needed was a “rah-rah” speech.

I felt they needed something that would help them feel like they were supported and that they had some semblance of control over their challenging sales environment.

So, I continued to dig deeper, and finally said,

“I know helping your team be motivated to stay focused in the fourth quarter is important to you, and I’d like to take a different angle on it.

Tell me about the things you hear from that may be identified as ‘demotivators’ in the environment, because I think the biggest bang for our buck is going to be removing some of those and giving them a sense of control and empowerment over their environment.”

From there he pulled out their most recent employee engagement survey. It showed the organization had received tremendously positive results and growth in a number of categories. But, the category on “feeling heard and valued” regarding their input into the organization’s direction continued to be low, and he said,

“I want to make sure my people feel like they’re heard, that their ideas and opinions have value, and that I care.”

I said, “that’s it, we’re done, thank you!”

After Friday’s workshop we learned the approach worked to perfection.

At the end, as we went around the conference room table every participant gave feedback that they appreciated the opportunity to contribute ideas to improve their region’s approach, as well as hearing everyone else’s ideas.

We identified about a 1/2-dozen priorities that came out of the session that the regional director promised to move up the chain and work towards implementation and getting answers for which he promised to communicate back to the group in their monthly meetings as the process moved forward.

Great leaders provide a forum for their team members to offer feedback and insights from the frontline because they know the frontline is where the action is and provides a better perspective that, at least, should be considered.

They also know that it allows others to feel like they have a little control over their environment and their working conditions, which is both empowering and motivating making for a happier, more productive work environment.

For more strategies and specific techniques to lead your teams more effectively and to create a motivating environment you’re going to want to check out, “The Leadership Series,” 7 Leadership Lessons for a ‘mini-masters degree’ in leadership.

’til next time, make it a great week!