A Daily Dispatch from the Front Lines of Leadership.


Fight This Feedback Bias

Everyone is really good at something. A signature strength defines who we are in the eyes of others. This asset allows us to dance and perform at the highest level. 

Such an asset deserves to be nurtured and shared with others — except when offering feedback. Every leader, parent, coach, and teacher is influenced by the same feedback bias: We are most critical of others in the area of our own strength. 

Highly organized leaders judge the organizational skills of others more harshly. Highly analytical leaders evaluate aptitude and rational thinking more acutely. Creative leaders turn a keen eye toward the creativity of others. And so on, and so on. We are most critical of others based upon our own strengths, and we give more feedback about performance in that arena. 

This feedback bias is pervasive across leaders around the globe and it serves to reinforce an ineffective and inaccurate message: In order for you to excel, you have to be great at what I am great at. 

The best leaders understand that there are many paths to effectiveness, and no one strength is required to achieve superb outcomes. They fight this bias by internalizing that their strengths do not need to be reflected in their team members, their children, or their colleagues. Be mindful of this bias and be sure not to offer feedback to others largely about your own strengths. Ironically, that is a leadership weakness. 

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