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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #105: From Good to Great Through the Valley of Feedback

September 24, 2020
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #105: From Good to Great Through the Valley of Feedback

Many leaders experience conflict when trying to provide constructive or negative feedback. Often times they will forgo feedback altogether to avoid potential conflict. Today, Chris and Perry share how to reduce the potential for conflict when sharing feedback with your team.

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Read the Transcript:

Perry Holley:    Welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holly, a John Maxwell facilitator and coach.

Chris Goede:     And I’m Chris Goede, vice president with the John Maxwell company. Welcome, and thank you for joining. As a reminder, as we get started today, if you’d like to learn more about the five levels of leadership, or maybe even being able to contact Perry or myself if you have a question or comment, or maybe you’re interested in your team going through some group coaching around the five levels of leadership, don’t hesitate to visit, and you can leave your comments or your questions there for us. You can also, if you want to download the learning guide, Perry, each week, for us takes a couple of the highlights from our conversation creates a learning guide, and you can download that there, as well.

Today’s topic is titled, From Good to Great, Through the Valley of Feedback. I love this title right here, Perry, and I know that we’re talking about managing conflict in this series, and we’ve talked about even feedback in a previous episode. Talk to us a little bit about how we’re bringing these two together.

Perry Holley:    Well, I often ask in a five levels class, how are you with feedback? Do you provide feedback? I find it to be really a level three. How are you driving results and performance of your team? And I almost… I’m great at feedback. I love telling people great stuff. Is it all great? Well, I don’t really tell them the negative stuff. Well, why don’t you do… Well that causes conflict. I really don’t want to get into that. And so I just find that it’s really a lot of the conflict that a lot of leaders face is when it comes to telling people hard things around their performance. And that it can be difficult to do that. And so we might avoid it just not to-

Chris Goede:     Absolutely.

Perry Holley:    Have to cause more conflict, but the title for this actually came from a personal situation that I had with your team.

Chris Goede:     Oh no, is where you drop the mic and walk out? I do think I know the situation that we’re thinking about. Let me just say this. I think feedback as leaders… Okay, we’re talking about maybe even giving feedback, but as leaders receiving feedback is so powerful. And when your leader holds back or maybe when you hold back from giving feedback to others, you’re depriving that individual. We’ve said recently, we owe it to our team to have those conversations. And if, by the way, and if we’re leading them correctly, the conversations will become easier, because they won’t be surprised by the conversation you’re about to have.

Maybe that’s a lesson futuristically we can talk about. You should be communicating often to them about it and in real time, so that those conversations are happening on a fluid basis, but it’s a great opportunity for growth. Now, if you probably caught on, I’m trying to just keep talking, maybe the whole podcast-

Perry Holley:    You don’t want to hear the story.

Chris Goede:     we’re not going to hear the story, but so let’s hear the story. And what I love about this is we’re actually going to kind of share with you a real time situation around giving feedback and how did you handle it and how did we give it? And what’d you think? And so this is just us kind of sharing with you what we’re going through.

To be a Successful Leader, You Need Feedback on Your Leadership.

We’re excited to announce our new and improved Organizational Effectiveness Survey (OES). The OES gathers feedback from employees to give leaders and management the knowledge and action plans needed to develop a more effective and productive work environment. Our new version measures 4 areas of your business: Leadership, People, Strategy, and Performance. 

Perry Holley:    Yeah, as I reflected, this was really made all the points. So I had made a video and I decided to share that with you, that you could share with clients, if you wanted, on 17 indisputable laws of teamwork. And I thought I could just share that with you. And so you, very appreciative of that, and you send it over to your team to, to get it out to them. And then it came back from you to me, with some very specific feedback that might make this video even better.

Chris Goede:     Well, yeah. And so the feedback didn’t come from me. And it came from one of my team members. I sent it out to the team and I was just like, “Man, take a look at this. Perry did this for us. And it’s value add for a couple of our partners, and use it for some of the ones that you’re working with.” And so I knew kind of the work that you put into it, and the time, and the thought process, and all that kind of good stuff. And how hard you did to write it up and work it, and produce it and all that kind of stuff.

Perry Holley:    So I get this note back from you with the feedback. But I can tell… And you have to tell me if I’m right, or I’m presuming that you were a bit nervous about sharing this because of the potential conflict it might cause with me, because you knew how hard I’d worked on it.

Chris Goede:     Yeah.

Perry Holley:    Did you think of not sending it?

Chris Goede:     Yes and no. I did think about that. I thought about a couple of things. One, I thought maybe I’d just respond to the team member and have them start using it and then…

Perry Holley:    Make your own videos.

Chris Goede:     Right. I mean, this is just real time stuff going on here. And so I knew that maybe it would just be easier just to let it go. But I knew how you would handle it. And so then I began having this conversation and these are the conversations that we’re just sharing with you, that I know as leaders, every day we have in our head, of decisions we have to make and conversation, and this is simple, but it’s real. And so we just wanted to kind of share it with you. Or do I then kind of just take a risk and say, “Well, I mean, I don’t want to rain on all Perry’s work, but I’m just going to send it to him and then he can kind of run with it.”

But I also knew that you are incredible about wanting to grow and learn. You’re an avid learner, and a communicator, and a speaker, and all this virtual stuff that we’re doing. And so I decided to go ahead and send it. So now tell me a little bit about how you received that feedback and then even your perception of it.

Perry Holley:    Well, I was a bit taken aback because when the video left my hands, it was perfect. I couldn’t figure out what happened after you receive it. I’m kidding. However, when I read the note with the feedback, the person sending it from your team, used a word that really caught me off guard, and that word was, excellent. And he kind of said, “This is really a nice video, but if you want it to be excellent…” I said, “Oh man, of course I want it to be excellent.” Let’s read this. I immediately, I went and I opened the video and to see what the in heck’s he talking about. And he was exactly right. And I got busy making those fixes

Chris Goede:     Yeah, and if I recall correctly. It didn’t just end there. Because not only did you… You were like, “Man, absolutely. You’re right.” And so you revised the changes that were mentioned, but then he made another comment and was saying, he called them kind of nitpicky comments, in the fine print there. But you immediately corrected those and then re-sent again. So the fourth time, right?

Perry Holley:    Yeah.

Chris Goede:     Fourth time. And then we got feedback that said, “Man, this is perfect.”

Perry Holley:    Right.

Chris Goede:     Right. So that’s a simple story. It’s real time, a lesson that we kind of went through and learned together with my team and with Perry, but one of the lessons as we kind of unpack that for them, to kick off this podcast, what are the lessons that leaders need to hear from this?

Perry Holley:    Yeah. So why was it not a conflict ridden like it could have been, but I said, as a leader, giving feedback… That’s why I was asking, was there a risk and you sending that? Did you feel the risk of conflict arising from that feedback? And yes, of course. But in this example, the risk was reduced significantly, because of three things that I would love to have as a part of every relationship that I have. And that’s people reporting to me, people I’m reporting to, if we have these three things. And so number one, now maybe get you to comment after each one, if you care to.

Chris Goede:     Okay, yeah.

Perry Holley:    But a number one was the person giving the feedback has influence with me. We have a relationship, level two and the five levels, he’s invested in me, relationship. I’ve invested in him. We know each other, we work together and we’re producing results together, which is level three. So I thought that relationship, we have relationship first.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. What I want to comment here, is just that this takes time. So I think the longer that you’re able to connect and to produce with people, level two or level three, and you build that trust level with them, they’re going to ultimately trust where that is coming from. And you can be more authentic and give them candid feedback. And so if you didn’t have that relational equity, or work together and kind of what we call win together and produce results and came flying at you the first time that you had worked with this individual, you may not have taken it the same way.

Perry Holley:    Right. I also thought later, do you think he’s, gut wrenching at his keyboard, getting ready to press the send button thinking about, oh, I don’t know how this… Oh, I shouldn’t do this. No, of course not. Because he was doing it well, number two, I said, the person giving the feedback had relational capital in the bank with me. And this was risky, and he’s making a withdrawal, he had on account, he had relational capital on account with me. He could make a withdrawal because he’s like you said, spent the time upfront-

Chris Goede:     That’s right.

Perry Holley:    To invest in me.Chris Goede:     Yeah. This goes back to what we just talked about, right? Leaders, you need to build change in your pocket. You need to increase your influence with people. And you need to have a model that you follow to do that. And you’re on different levels with different people all the time. And you need to understand that. And so the more you pour in, and invest in, and develop that relationship of influence, the more change you’re going to have in your pocket to be able as… I mean, as you talked about the relational capital, change in your pocket. Same thing, you know what, he was able to pull out a quarter and hit send. And he didn’t hesitate to hit send. I promise you. Because you guys have that relationship.

Perry Holley:    There’s a trust factor.

Chris Goede:     There’s trust there, yeah.

Perry Holley:    Number three, was this person giving the feedback had answered what we call the three questions that every person you’re influencing, or that you’re being influenced by, every follower is asking of you these three questions. We talk about this frequently. The three questions are, is he trying to help me?

Chris Goede:     Yes.

Perry Holley:    Does he care about me? And can I trust him? And the answer was, yes. I know he’s trying to help me be better. He used the word excellent. He’s trying to help me get the excellent. Does he care about me? I absolutely know he cares about me. We have a great relationship and we’re-

Chris Goede:     That’s so good.

Perry Holley:    Invested in each other. And can I trust him? Without a doubt. And so we have that trust level and it just said, wow, this is pretty good at somebody would give me feedback.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. And something I loved about us going back and forth, because Perry didn’t know initially kind of my hesitation. But he knew, he called it out right away. He’s like, “I’m sure you were probably a little hesitant on sending this to me.” And I was. But what I loved about it, is after we got through all of this, and we had to kind of a few back and forth and chuckles, what you said was, “Man, I really appreciated the feedback that I was given from your team member. I wish more people would be that bold. Would be bold like that, to be able to say, hey, I want it to be excellent. And here’s what it needs to be excellent.” And then, hey, maybe I’m now being a little nitpicky, but here’s two other changes and never hesitate to hitting the send.

Perry Holley:    That was the bold part.

Chris Goede:     Yeah, that’s right.

Perry Holley:    The nitpicky one.

Chris Goede:     The nitpicky one was the bold part.

Perry Holley:    Most of us would have stopped with, okay, I got three out of five. But no, he said, “Oh really?” Well, most of us are not blessed as you said, to have someone in our lives that want to help make us better. And there’s no one able to take a risk to share with you, how you could move from good to great. So I love this about you and your team. They’re willing to take a risk in order to help make me better, make the team better, help the customer more.

They don’t let anything just go by and it helps us deliver better client results. And it made me better. And so I can’t imagine how many people would have avoided this to avoid a potential conflict. Instead of giving me that gift, even though it could be risky, it could be hard. It could go… He didn’t, he totally unloaded and trusted me to receive it.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. And the other thing, listen, as I kind of wrap up, and this is just as we wrap up this series of conflict resolution and today we’re talking about the good to great, and through the valley of feedback, what Perry had put together was good. But after the feedback and the valley of the conversations, it became great. And it’s an incredible video clip and if it’s something you’re interested in, in seeing around teamwork, if you’ll just visit, let us know. We’ll send that to you. You can see it. You can use it for your team, for a meeting, whatever.

Perry Holley:    And please send feedback if you think it’s not .

Chris Goede:     No, don’t send any, I was just kidding. But don’t send any more feedback to him. He’s done. But this is what this series for us has been all about is just letting you show, hey, it is valuable. Your people want, desire, and they may not say they desire, but they need and will never… If you do it in the right way, will never regret you giving them feedback and tough conversations. And if you think back on your personal journey, and you think back about some of the greatest times that you’ve gone through, growing and learning, it wasn’t from our successes.

It was from our failures. And John teaches about this a lot. And so not only when you’re down or maybe there’s something not going right, let’s learn something while we’re down there. And the only way to do that is to be open to allowing people to have those tough conversations for you. We owe it to them. And so hopefully this series has helped you in that area. Hopefully there was a nugget or two in the four that we did, and just apply it. That’s the biggest thing. We keep these short, we want to give you principles. And maybe if you just take one and you go and apply them, which is the hard part about leadership, it’ll make a difference. And so, yeah, we’re grateful. But again, if you have any comments about the video that you want to see about accelerating teamwork, don’t send them. I’m just kidding.

Perry Holley:    All right. Well, as Chris said, go to You can leave a comment, or a question for us there. You can learn more about these five levels of leadership. I just hope you know how grateful we are that you join us each week. And that’s all today from the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.

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