Many leaders are taught that a mentor’s role is to give their mentee feedback and advice. Feedback has a place, but there are times when feedforward is the more impactful approach. Below are important mentoring tips that explain when to use feedback and feedforward.
Feedforward is a concept that Marshall Goldsmith often talks about in his writing about leadership communication. It’s also a key skill I help my clients develop.
There Are Two Distinctions to Make About Feedback and Feedforward:
- Past vs. future focus: Feedback is focused on what was said or done previously, while feedforward is focused on what could be said or done differently in the future.
- Telling vs. asking: Feedback is usually delivered via statements such as “You were not direct in asking for what you want.” Feedforward is usually delivered via questions, such as “What could you do differently next time to make your request more direct?”
This is not to say feedback doesn’t have a role. It is especially useful when pointing out a blind spot that may be impeding progress.
But when the mentee knows they missed the mark and they’re looking for better options for the future, try offering feedforward.
Your job is to listen for which is more helpful in the moment.
3 Tips for Better Mentoring
- Ask open-ended questions: Avoid yes/no questions in favor of open-ended questions that help them explore ideas they haven’t considered.
- Be curious: Let your own curiosity guide your questions.
- Slow down: Instead of rushing in with ideas and advice, leave space for them to come up with their own options.
Modern mentoring is so much more than simply giving advice and sharing what’s worked for you. Today it’s about helping the next generation of leaders to be successful in their own way. Feedforward is a skill for forward-thinking mentors and, ultimately, forward-thinking organizations.
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It is not surprising that coaching skills for leaders can be found in most professional development programs today. Healthcare leaders are passionate about coaching and committed to good patient outcomes. This requires top performance and engagement from staff. Coaching is an effective way to create a culture where employees feel emotionally engaged with their work and want to remain, grow and learn.
This is Why Healthcare Leaders are Passionate About Coaching Skills for Leadership:
- Staff development: Ask a good question and staff are prompted to share their thoughts and even challenge their own assumption.
- Accountability: When people come up with their own solution they take ownership.
- High functioning teams: using coaching skills enhances communication and reduces tensions, leading to better team decision-making.
- Communication: when you listen carefully to the response to your questions, staff feel heard and valued.
- Effective Feedback: Asking questions to support developmental feedback is less confrontational for the giver and the receiver.
- Free up your time: As staff learns to find their own answers, rather than continually come back to you for the solutions, you focus on your top priorities.
- Work satisfaction: It feels great to see a person you have coached do better in their tasks, role and for the organization.
If you want to power up your leadership toolbox with coaching skills, you really need to experience coaching first hand. Find an experienced coach, see the impact for yourself, then you are ready to leverage the power of coaching skills.
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A physician reported at the end of our second coaching session that, “The most important thing I am learning is to focus on what I want, instead of what I don’t want.” My client’s words capture the mindset of most physicians when it comes to positive change. The rigorous medical training of physicians that reinforces creating a disaster scenario in the doctors’ minds heightens the natural tendency of people to focus on problems and risks.
Have you ever found yourself feeling stuck in negative thought patterns – with the worst possible outcomes – that dampen your expectations? Perhaps you have thought or said, either, “I don’t think I can make this work,” or, ”I seriously doubt that I can pull this off.” Such a common mindset often proves challenging to positive change, even after you finally decide that you’ve had enough negativity.
The good news is that learning to focus more on what you WANT can be done with skills you already have- smarts and persistence.
4 Keys to Creating Positive Change in 2018
Would you like to rearrange your current reality? Try these 4 simple strategies to shift your focus to what you want to create positive change, starting in 2018.
1) Under Every Frustration is a Personal Request.
At the end of a week, how often have you said in frustration, “I wish I’d been able to:
- make progress on a favorite project
- go for a run
- spend time with my children
- have a date with my spouse
Your complaints give you a clue about what the things to which you are committed. As you develop your self-awareness about what is most important, you build motivation to make positive change and create a personal call-to-action.
Tip: Pick one area of focus at a time. Trying to make too many changes at once does not work.
2) Perform an Attitude Check-Up Several Times a Day.
First, pay attention to how you feel. If you’re feeling irritable, pessimistic, or stressed, you’re probably focusing more on negative thoughts. However, if you’re feeling positive and productive, it’s an indicator that you’ve been thinking positive thoughts.
Tip: Our speech reveals things on which we are focused. Do you tend to talk about problems or opportunities? Do you contribute to negative conversations, or do you endeavor to shift the conversation in a more positive direction?
3) Challenge and Change Your Negative Thoughts.
Although you can’t always control your circumstances, you can control your response. If you are feeling doubtful about your ability to finish that pile of charts on time, you might engage in a bit of encouraging self-talk. “Okay, so I’m a bit worried right now, but really everything is under control. I’m strong, I’m smart, and I’m definitely capable of finishing on time. I just need to focus and do my best, and I will be fine.”
Tip: Positive self-talk can get you thinking and feeling in a more positive direction, which will open up your problem-solving abilities.
4) Keep Your Eyes on the Ball, on the Goal.
Many things in healthcare are not working ideally. Look beyond the challenges to see your desired outcome. When motorcyclists want to avoid an obstacle, instead of getting trapped in negative target fixation, they need to look past the obstacle. They need to focus on where they want to be, not where they don’t want to be.
Tip: Work daily on developing positive expectations. Each day when you wake up, affirm confidently, “Today is going to be a great day, because _________! I feel fantastic about being able to _________.” Fill in those blanks with three specific reasons for holding positive expectations about your day.
Small Changes are Additive, for Big Results.
On their own, each of these four strategies probably doesn’t seem significant enough to change the course of your life. Each strategy is designed to create a subtle shift, rather than a radical change in direction.
But don’t underestimate the results from a small shift in course. If you were flying from New York to London, and the pilot was only 1o off course during the whole flight, you probably would miss Europe.
If you improve your life with small changes today, the results will compound over time. Changing your life is often a case of making small adjustments that produce huge benefits in the long run. Wishing you an amazing 2018!
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Do you have career decision analysis paralysis? Making important career decisions can be tough for physicians. The stakes are high and the consequences uncertain, making it easy to put off important choices. If you tell yourself you do your best work facing a deadline, it is possible this is really an excuse for procrastination.
To move past indecision, Dr. Chang and I worked through three stages of decision-making. I’ll tell you more about Dr. Chang, who needed to make a decision about how to allocate her work roles for the upcoming budget cycle.
Stage 1: Getting ready to make career decisions
Why do we procrastinate? Behavioral psychology research points to a phenomenon called “time inconsistency”. Our human brain tends to value immediate rewards more highly than future rewards. This trips us up because our best-intention plans for the future can lose out to what’s more desirable today.
For Dr. Chang, the long term career satisfaction of working with Residents, conflicted with the current rewards of seeing patients. The decision once made, would be costly to change.
Stage 2: Make a decision
Making a decision to get what you truly want is particularly challenging for women. As caregivers, we women often put family and patient needs over our own. That makes career decisions even more challenging. In an effort to get it ‘right”, we lean into data and analysis to make decisions, but rational analysis is not enough. You need a decision you can put both your heart and your back into.
Dr. Chang imagined a future that did not include working with Residents. Getting in touch with the emotions of that scenario influenced her commitment to her choice, in spite of the possible consequences.
Stage 3: Make your decision right
Dr. Chang’s choice felt particularly important because it would have lasting consequences. Reality is, there are far too many variables to know in advance what career choice will be best. What you can control is how motivated you are to support the success of your choice. You already know to expect the unexpected in the outcome of any choice we make. Where we have the most control is our day -to – day choices and activities -after we make that big decision.
Release the grip indecision with by anticipating how your choice will feel the future. If your heart is in it, you can make it work.
P.S. Need more help moving past indecision? Schedule your consult today!
The women physicians with whom I worked at the March conference loved the ease and power of creating a personal leadership brand. As is often the case, when you return home, you may realize you have questions you didn’t think to ask. If you missed learning about leadership branding, read my past post, “How to Develop Your Leadership Brand.”
Here are my responses to the most frequently asked questions regarding how to unlock the power of your personal leadership brand:
How Is My Leadership Brand Statement Different Than a Mission Statement?
Both are essential in your personal and leadership development. You ultimately want both statements, as they serve different purposes.
A personal mission statement causes you to think deeply about your life, clarify your purpose, and identify what is important to you. What this gives you is criteria for living a meaningful life.
A personal leadership brand statement identifies who you are as a leader. Your leadership identity drives your decisions toward big-picture leadership goals.
How Can I Use My Personal Leadership Brand to Advocate for Myself?
Women frequently are powerful advocates for others, but often are less strong when advocating for ourselves. Your leadership brand can help you make a decision or build your case for a decision. In the process of creating your leadership brand, you identified your leadership “sweet spot.”
Inevitably, you will want to say no to projects, assignments, or roles that don’t align. Although you may not be able to negotiate your way out of or into every situation, you will be better prepared to make your case.
After I Create My Leadership Brand Statement, How Do I Use It?
- Share it with your team. You send a strong message about the importance of accountability when you hold yourself accountable to living up to your leadership brand.
- Create personal leadership brands as a team exercise. This is a powerful exercise to develop understanding and appreciation of team strengths and diversity.
- Include it as the summary statement in your resume’ and/or LinkedIn profile. Your statement will begin shaping how others perceive you.
Remember that you are training people how to treat you and see you in every interaction you have with them. Utilize the power of your leadership brand to define who you are as a leader, and your legacy for the future.
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Shift happens. Priorities change, funding is reallocated, and the project you’re leading is cancelled. Sometimes a change is so challenging, it feels like an obstacle to your career trajectory. People get confused and don’t know what to expect when priorities are shifting. They also don’t know where to focus. If you are uncertain about what’s next, what is important, and what adds value, your team feels uncertain, too. People need to know what leadership values they can expect from their organization and from you.
The key to being resilient and helping your team bounce back may surprise you. Focusing on your leadership values will help you find the ground under your feet and be recognized as the leader you are. You and your team will move forward again with clarity on what is valued and seen as important.
There is a 3-step process to create alignment. See below.
1) Check your leadership values. As a leader, people are watching you.
Below is a list of adjectives representing common workplace values. Circle the 5 values that you truly value most. Be sure these are what you really value and not what you say you value or what your boss wants you to value. Feel free to add other workplace values to the list.
- Collaborative Good listening
- Creative Innovative
- Decisive Inspirational
2) Circle the 5 leadership values you think your staff and/or colleagues believe are most important to you.
This is based on their experience with you. Are there any discrepancies? People feel when someone in a position of leadership is not real with them. These are important for you to notice and correct.
3) Circle the 5 leadership values you think that your company or organization values most.
What are the differences between your company’s or organization’s stated values and your experience of what the company or organization values?
By completing this simple exercise in values and alignment, you have accomplished two important steps to getting recognition for your leadership. Your staff and colleagues will trust you as a leader if you are real with them. Others will identify with and follow a leader they trust. You set you and your team up to meet goals that are viewed as valuable by knowing what your company or organization actually values.
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