There is a type of leadership that is pseudo-compassionate and pseudo-caring. In other words, this type of leadership gives only the perception of being compassionate and caring, but the reality is that this type of leadership is neither. The type of leadership to which I am referring is leadership without feedback. Leadership without feedback may look or feel compassionate, but it is cruel. Many leaders struggle to give feedback and use the “kindness card” in their minds to justify their poor leadership. Under the banner of “being encouraging,” they fail to encourage with feedback. Leadership without feedback is weak leadership.
If you fail to offer feedback to those you lead, you are withholding these three important things:
When some hear the word “feedback,” they assume it means “constructive criticism” or “painful conversations.” While feedback should offer opportunities for growth, feedback must not be limited to correcting the negative. Those you lead could benefit from encouragement, from hearing the things they do that provide the most value, from understanding how their contribution fits into the whole. Without a culture of feedback and dialogue, even positive statements can feel trite and divorced from reality.
2. Opportunities to reflect on “the why”
Conversations with people you lead about their actions provide opportunities to clarify the why behind all the activity. Feedback conversations can help team members think more deeply about the why behind all the behavior. Helping your team understand the why is one way of serving them well.
3. Opportunities to adjust
People are much more likely to adjust, in small ways or in big ways, with specific feedback. To expect people to adjust without feedback is unfair and unrealistic.
Once I gave an employee his first-ever annual review, and he cried at the end of the review. I did not think the review was harsh or discouraging, so I asked why he was upset. He responded that he knew he could have been much more productive in his life and ministry if this had not been his first time of directed feedback. He wondered what could have been. He was in his mid-50s at the time. So was I cruel to give feedback or was it cruel that he had not received any until that point?
To stop being a cruel leader, you must start offering feedback.