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The responsibility of the leader is to put their own ego aside and approach teammates in a curious, unbiased, unemotional way that creates an environment of drawing out free speech without fear of insubordination. The team needs to know that their honest opinion matters and no harm will come to them when they give it.
Candid, uncensored feedback is a gift. To capitalize on it, leaders must empathetically hear it, consider it, digest it and then decide how to make the organization better. When the leader is seen as not trying to defend against the feedback, even more gifts will follow.
When teams feel heard, they respect the leader and a culture of progress ensues. The right changes occur and the leader makes decisions that are more relevant by focusing on the highest priority items. Staff discover that their leader understands their cause at the deepest levels.
In the end, a culture of togetherness grows where people feel purposeful and satisfied because they are contributing to the progress of change. Consequently, they show up more consistently. Absenteeism, conflict and turn-over all go down and the business prospers. And when all that happens, how does the leader look? Like a genius.
Consider the reverse. Without a feedback mechanism (or feedback that is ignored or defended by the leader) the staff hold back their ideas. Answers to common problems never surface. Staff effort and care decline, product quality deteriorates and leaders start guess at what needs fixing. Then leaders start fixing the wrong things, the staff divide and job dissatisfaction grows. They call in sick time and some may even be more likely to require leaves of absence. This puts pressure on others of carry the load and the team begins to turnover. Since this all happens faster than the leader can succession plan, desperate hires are made and the business suffers. How does the leader look now?
Speak freely and everyone wins.
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