The timing for this post is intentional. You are done or almost done with your performance reviews and your goals are set. We are still in Q1 and your team has three more quarters to knock performance out of the park.
No matter if you are the CEO or a team leader, how you manage your own performance casts a long shadow over your team. Though you are not the sole owner of creating a culture of feedback, or a vibrant learning culture, you are one of the most important. Learning agility – how openly and quickly you learn from experience and apply it to your leadership and work, will impact the learning agility of your team. For me it is usually ranked number one or two for important leadership competencies. If you score high on learning agility (taken from the wonderful Center for Creative Leadership: https://www.ccl.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/LearningAgility.pdf), you demonstrate the ability to:
In my experience, very few leaders do all of these well. But if they do most, they have a better chance of modeling and achieving a more agile learning culture. However, if you say you want feedback and ask for it but get defensive when a courageous colleague gives it to you, don’t be surprised if you struggle to create a learning culture. Nothing shuts down a feedback loop faster than getting defensive and sending the message that no matter what they say, they really don’t want feedback.
You can’t and shouldn’t be the only person who provides feedback to your team. In fact, I would make a case that peer feedback can be even more powerful because if someone is managing up well but not laterally, or down, peers know it. But, at every level, the leader sets the stage for a more agile learning culture, or not.
So back to creating the culture. There are more pieces to this but if you model learning agility for your team and colleagues, then you can move to the next step which is to normalize feedback. For me this includes actions like:
Of course, there is more you can do. I mentioned the above short list because it is doable and will go a long way to creating a “norm” that you expect and welcome feedback and that you expect your team to do the same. The vision is for everyone to keep honing their edge, learn to be effective with a diverse set of colleagues (and bosses) and continue to get better collectively. It’s pretty cool because there is absolutely no downside and much to be gained by creating a more agile learning culture.
Moira Clarke founded Leadership Consulting Partners 18 years ago to help companies advance their leadership and people systems. If you are reading this to the end, and you find value, please say so and share with others on LinkedIn and Twitter. Thank you!
Welcome to Moira's blog. I write a (mostly) monthly post about the work of building better work places: people strategies, systems, teams and leaders.