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Forget Everything You Know About Feedback

In a recent webinar, the staff at Heartpace sat down with Carl Erik Herlitz from Tuff Leadership Training. He went over how the old model for leadership no longer works, and how organizations need to forget everything they know about giving feedback.Tuff | Leadership training



Read on to learn about why the current leadership system must evolve and helpful guidance for getting the feedback you can actually use to better the organization.

The Leadership System: why it needs to continuously evolve


With all the tools and technology on hand today, it’s not only important but imperative, that leaders learn to continuously evolve along with new ideas toward giving feedback and professional development. Modern tools like Heartpace are a great way to help facilitate change. For example, operating systems and apps can help to:

  • Drive effective change
  • Make agile and lean structures work better
  • Provide activity-based environments where employees are meant to move around
  • Facilitate feedback and coaching

Leaders treat Employees Like Parents Treat Children. This Needs to Change


There historically has been very little patience with leadership styles. Leaders have long thought that all of the responsibility rests on their shoulders. Many enterprises have also taught their leaders to seek “quick” solutions, though these are not always the most effective in the long-term. 


The idea that leaders hold all of the responsibility for making employees perform in a certain way is a flawed way of thinking. It also creates more of an authoritative, parent-child dynamic which isn’t good for trust-building. 

Leaders should lead with a mindset of “how can I motivate them?” instead of “how can I make them?”


Managing employees in more of a parenting style may look like this:


  • Talking a lot
  • Trying to consistently convince, argue or persuade
  • Using the ‘dangling carrot’ method with employees
  • Loading employees with too much information in the form of ‘PowerPoint festivals’


To end, this type of leadership style that has been heavily used in the past does not place the employee and manager on equal footing. There are a need and a longing in the world for another kind of leadership. A way of working better together.

A new way of giving feedback:  a ‘way of being’ feedback

Herlitz suggests leaders try to achieve a different “way of being” in the feedback system. This looks like:


  • A leader who empowers employees to be their best
  • Abiding by a mutual trust-based system
  • Having the ability to place responsibility with an employee (while also holding themselves to account)
  • More of an adult-adult dynamic and way of being with one another


It’s better to think of the relationship as a partnership. This mindset changes the way you speak with employees and can help you both come to better resolutions. 


That said, feedback can still be a difficult thing. Many have fear around it based on past experience or worry in receiving it because they will fail to meet expectations. So, many end up shying away from feedback rather than embracing it.


When you find an adult-adult way of ‘being’ with each other then you can talk about an array of different things. It opens up the conversation. Getting feedback is important because research tells us managers and leaders need to see and realize their pitfalls to become more self-aware and successful. 


 It all comes from a way of being, and this will likely require some ‘unlearning’ by leaders of old management styles. A more equal feedback dynamic affects the following: 

  • Having a good manager to employee relationship - having enough trust and openness as well as frequent 1 to 1 talks to maintain the relationship.
  • Have a purpose - the manager should have an earnest wish to contribute to the development of employees. Make sure it is in line with how they want to grow, too. 


How to Make this Work [+Example]


To make the adult-adult dynamic work for your team or organization, here are some things you should try to do:

Step 1: Get a Mandate

Ask the employee what their mission is, whether that’s accomplishing a certain project, having a better work/life balance, or attaining a new professional goal. Getting that mandate and knowing what will motivate the employee is the first and foremost important thing. 

Step 2: Give the Message

This is a clear, frank message. Managers must be sure to effectively communicate the message to the employee so both are on the same page. Say something to get the employee interested in listening to the feedback now that you have the mandate.

Step 3: Listen to the Response (Feeling)

Feelings and sentiments from employees need to be heard. Confirm and mirror what they’re saying, and give encouraging words. In order to listen really hear the feedback, it helps when employees feel heard, too. Doing things like repeating back the sentiments you think the person was expressing is very helpful in this scenario. 

Step 4: Coach

Once you have laid the groundwork for where duties and tasks need to be directed, leaders should take on the mentality of an encouraging coach, who’s there as a resource to help. 


Having regular check-in conversations is a large part of being effective at coaching, which takes a lot of practice and participation. 


An example of this scenario could be a situation where an employee is a perfectionist, which keeps them from delivering projects on time. What the leader can do here, is assess where this employees priorities are by asking them questions (the ‘mandate’) and let them know that while it’s great they want to deliver quality work, they must also find a balance in getting projects completed on time (the ‘message’) and then hear the employee out on what they feel about this feedback (listen). Finally, there should be follow-up discussions and meetings to check-in on progress (coaching).

The Need for a New Leadership & Heartpace

Talking about ways you can motivate employees in an adult-adult dynamic helps greatly in giving great feedback. It shows more of an interest in you seeing the employee grow and develop.


Heartpace and this new leadership style have a lot in common. Heartpace helps leaders and employees work better together in performance management. The Heartpace software features dialogues as the main focus which is the most important part of this new type of feedback-based leadership style too. We’ve seen first-hand how it can help our clients to get the kind of results they want from a performance management perspective.


Learn more by signing up for a demo today! And of course please contact Carl Erik Herlitz at Tuff Leadership if you would like to discuss a project.

Team Heartpace

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