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Your Leadership Style(s) & Delivering Feedback

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By LaMesha Craft
October 16, 2023

In last month’s publication, “Embracing Ugly Babies” I offered food for thought on feedback. Some readers noted that feedback is sometimes non-existent or incomplete, but critically important prior to the delivery of a draft product, process or plan.

Naturally, there are different camps regarding the necessity of feedback in the workplace. Some may scoff and think “I shouldn’t have to tell people they are doing a good job all of the time.” While others may think, “Sometimes people just need to figure it out for themselves, my feedback may stifle their process.”

There is probably another camp that may want to provide feedback, but often refrain because of its negative connotation. However, feedback is neither good nor bad…it just is.

The question remains, how can we deliver feedback in a manner that feels natural to us and is comprehensive for the receiver.

Using Kubicek & Cockram’s 5 Leadership Voices as a construct, here are some considerations for providing feedback given the style(s) that seems most natural to you.

For the Nurturer

According to Kubicek & Cockram, Nurturers typically avoid conflict, they can inherently gauge the organizational environment and are genuinely happy to celebrate the achievements of others.

Therefore, it may be difficult to deliver feedback (that is anything other than accolades). However, the Nurturer could use open-ended questions to facilitate self-reflection by the receiver, such as:

How do you think you did [on this project]?

What are some things that you think you did well?

Typically, when we’re working on something, we can identify at least one thing that we can still improve, what were some things that you identified?

These questions can empower the nurturer to elaborate on what their team member self-identified and provide comprehensive feedback.

For the Creative

According to Kubicek & Cockram, Creatives love to think outside the box, they naturally believe things can always be better and they often see opportunities and dangers long before everyone else.

Feedback may be natural for the creative. However, because they are out of the box thinkers, and can sense opportunities and dangers far in advance, they may need to slow down and consider the present situation prior to providing feedback. The Creative could use these conversation starters:

When I reviewed your project, it made me think of [out of the box concepts].

I’m curious your thoughts on [concepts that impact the present situation and are missing in the project]?

This collaborative approach to feedback may feel natural for the Creative and provide space and time for the team member to review their project through a different lens.

For the Guardian

According to Kubicek & Cockram, Guardians want to ensure that every solution is workable, they do not avoid asking difficult questions and they value logic, order, systems and processes.

Guardians probably hand out feedback like its candy. However, their commitment to logic and order could make their straight-forward feedback seem harsh. A moment of introspection may help the Guardian align their feedback to the project:

What is my perception of how this project fits into the grand scheme of things?

Am I making a connection to a past event or decision and is it warranted here?

Then, once the Guardian has right sized their perceptions or expectations, they can ask open-ended questions to understand how the project may impact the system or process:

In my mind, this project [your perception of how it fits]. However, I acknowledge that I may be missing something. How do you see [their project impacting the system or process]?

For the Connector

According to Kubicek & Cockram, Connectors are natural people pleasers, they are inspirational communicators, are incredibly resourceful and know how to connect people and their aspirations.

Like the Nurturer, Connectors may find it difficult to provide feedback if it consists of anything other than accolades. However, the Connector could use their connections to identify someone to provide a peer-review or to brainstorm with the project lead.

The Connector may need to inject themselves into the feedback process before the draft of the project is complete. Waiting until the project is ready for review before connecting people and their visions could impact the timeline (and subsequently upset the Guardian of the group).

Therefore, the Connector should lean forward and offer assistance and feedback at the onset of the project as well as half-way through, such as:

If you’d like any points of contact regarding [key components of the project], please do not hesitate to let me know, I’m happy to help you make connections.

For the Pioneer

According to Kubicek & Cockram, Pioneers can be inspirational or overbearing. They have an ‘anything is possible’ attitude and they are effective at aligning people, systems and resources. As powerful communicators, they can provide an attractive and compelling vision of the future. However, their greatest challenge is to sit back and let their team contribute first.

Therefore, Pioneers should trust the process (and their team) before providing feedback. Lastly, while practicing patience, Pioneers should assess how they are contributing to the morale within their team.

Author: LaMesha “MeMe” Craft, holds a doctorate in public policy and administration. Her research interests include adult learning, leadership and management, the impacts of disruptive technology, alternative futures, and postnormal times. She may be reached at [email protected] or @DrLCraft20

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