Find the Courage: Remember, First YOU, then WE

Mark F. Dunn
Friday, May 12, 2017

During his TEDx Wilmington talk, Robert Staub delivered his learned benefits of exhibiting “Daily Acts of Courage.”  During the talk he shared that courage “develops the cardiovascular system of the soul,” mentioning that when we demonstrate courage, we give ourselves positive energy and expand our ability to do more.  As he shared the seven types of courage, I noticed that many of them referred to interpersonal behavior, which led me to think about the courage needed to manage relationships by effectively giving and receiving feedback.

During a recent discussion with a group of mentors, I had an exciting opportunity to discuss the importance of giving and receiving feedback as a foundation to building a culture of engagement and high performance.  Over my life and career, I have experienced many types of teams, some good and others not.  Each team has its’ own culture, and those that are positive all included opportunities for investment in both positive and constructive feedback. 

For many of us, delivering effective feedback is something that requires practice and repetition.  One must truly demonstrate courage and caring for the other person by entering that space with them to do this well.  To provide some structure the next time you need to deliver constructive feedback, here are some key steps to follow: 

5 Steps to Delivering Constructive Feedback:

Step 1: Show your intent is positive and identify a common goal

Step 2: Describe specifically what you observed and the impact of the behavior

Step 3: Ask the other person to respond (and listen with an open mind)

Step 4: Discuss possible solutions

 Step 5: Agree on next steps

During this discussion, one of the mentors asked, “What if the 1 on 1 conversation doesn’t work?  What if the person doesn’t respond?”  When this happens in my world, I gradually increase the intensity of my feedback until behavior change occurs. 

The Feedback Intensity Scale: (begin at #1 and progress as needed until behavior change occurs)

1. 1 on 1: You speak directly with the person

2. 2 on 1: After delivering the feedback privately, you bring a leader or someone of influence into the discussion.  Sometimes the individual may receive this better from another peer.

3. Team on 1: If negative behavior continues, bring focus to the team and develop team agreements on behavior that lead to success.  Often we spend too much time focusing on the 10% of a team that does not want to change versus the 90% that are committed to building a successful team environment.  Let the team’s behavior create an opportunity for change.

4. Organization on 1: The organization’s policy on behavior and performance will come into effect over time. The leader of the team will have a team that agrees to operate at a high level and will have many examples of behavior that is not aligned with both the team’s and organization’s values.

When I shared these concepts with the mentor group, they quickly moved into action, considering how they could help their protégés and teams develop.  Now that you have read this advice, consider the following:

1. How can you help your team move towards success by utilizing these feedback tools?

2.  What courage type do you need to develop to make #1 occur? 

3. Would you be willing to work with your team in creating an agreement to practice effective feedback?

4. What happens to your team if you do not demonstrate the courage to do this?