Yesterday, I had a coffee with my IESE Business School colleague Miquel Llado. We were celebrating his new book “Fall in Love with the Future” (available now in Spanish: Enamorarse del Futuro).
Miquel’s book shares valuable lessons on life and leadership from his career as CEO of Sara Lee, CEO of Bimbo, VP of Pepsico and his years of teaching at IESE. Miquel was elected Spain’s Best Executive 2000 by the Spain Business Association AED.
I’ve ordered 100 copies of the book to share with our Vistage CEO members in Spain.
Miquel shared a recent anecdote. A successful leader was sat in his office when a colleague came over to his desk.
Colleague: “Do you want my feedback?”
Leader: “No. I have no interest in your feedback. If I had listened to all the feedback that people threw at me all my life, I wouldn’t be a millionaire today.”
Miquel was shocked. All feedback is good feedback? or No?
Leader: “I am very careful about who’s feedback I am open to hearing. Not everyone’s feedback is useful… and many people have no idea what my actual objective is.”
Not all Feedback is Good Feedback (for you)
I heard this a few years back and I wrote it into my notebook at the time. “Evaluate feedback not on its face value, but on the quality of the life of the person giving you the feedback.”
If they have a life that inspires you, if they live to a set of standards and values that you aspire towards… then take the feedback seriously (whether it seems useful or not!).
How to Make Feedback Valuable
After I heard Miquel’s story, I thought “In my course we use feedback all the time, from everyone… is that something I should reevaluate?”
In my IESE courses, we make extensive use of peer feedback… from as many people as possible… but the first thing that the speaker must begin from is their statement of purpose. We call it Point X. “When I have finished speaking my audience will…” All the audience feedback is based on helping increase the power and the potency of the speaker’s words and actions towards consistently achieving that result.
If a speaker’s objective is “when I have finished speaking my audience will write their email address on a paper to commit to donate an hour to mentor an MBA student this week”… If nobody in the audience has written down their email, I am pretty harsh when feedback is “your speech was wonderful and I loved your story”. The purpose of speaker was not to be seen as wonderful. Their purpose was to get the audience to commit to giving 1 hour of their time. You can give an entertaining speech that totally fails to achieve its original objective.
In giving feedback, maybe I should be first interested in asking the person “What was your objective?” before I throw in my 2 cents. Often I have assumed their intent, but maybe I am incorrect.
When someone approaches me with feedback, maybe first I should ask “I’m intrigued, what do you think was my primary objective?”
Hitting the Bullseye
I shoot an arrow at a target and I miss. I ask a colleague for feedback. “I don’t like the colour yellow on your t-shirt… it is distracting” It is honest, sincere feedback, but it doesn’t help me hit the target next time.
If you liked this post, you’ll love my friend Florian Mueck’s guest post on this blog The Virtuous Circle of Feedback.