Leadership Feedback and What Managers Can Learn From It

Leadership Feedback and What Managers Can Learn From It

Table of Contents

Leadership Feedback and Management

A well-functioning workforce is comfortable sharing feedback at all levels of the organization. Leadership feedback particularly stands out. As leaders generally wield the most power in an organization, it’s important for them to know the general consensus and new strands of opinions about the organization, a person, or themselves.

It’s also important that this feedback comes from multiple stakeholders in the organization, irrespective of the organization hierarchy. Zenger Folkman found out that leadership development, in the long run, can double an organization’s profits. They used employee assessments to measure leadership competencies.

Employee feedback is crucial for leading but also for leadership development, which all current managers can benefit from. Given that the manager is such a common role in any organization, with manager to staff ratios ranging from 1:4 to 1:15, we thought we would give their leadership abilities a closer look.

We start by exploring the contrast between leading and managing.

The Difference between Leaders and Managers

In organizations, there are leaders, and there are managers. While the two may not be mutually exclusive, there are certain characteristics that set them apart.

For example, the following differences are taken from Indeed, which sees thousands of job descriptions posted on their website daily.

Managers tell their teams what to do. Leaders set expectations for their teams.

Managers follow their supervisor’s orders and give orders to their team. Leaders usually don’t deal in orders, but think about what is best for their team and the company.

Managers measure progress. Leaders inspire growth and motivation.

Further differences between leadership and management are as follows. Taken from Simplilearn, which offers many courses on both skills.

A manager organizes, while a leader builds a new order.

A manager relies on control, while a leader inspires trust.

A manager asks “how” and “when”, while a leader asks “what” and “why”.

By paying close attention to each difference, a trend can be observed. The manager’s role seems bounded by specificity and getting things done in a certain workflow.

The leader has more flexibility as the scope of the impact they are trying to make is much broader.

See how we help support HR in enabling leaders to create highly engaged and performing teams here.

Leadership Feedback is for All People Leaders

The manager in every organization is a reality! Yes, from what we’ve read thus far, anyone can benefit from leadership qualities, not just executive leadership positions, but people at managerial, directorial, or any other position for that matter.

The manager can do their designated duties admirably and keep the machine chugging along. But also, there is nothing stopping them from taking a step back from their roles and looking at the big picture.

Sometimes, thinking at a macro level can solve problems at a micro-level. The reverse is true as well. That is, given that managers are already adept in their roles, they can utilize newfound leadership skills to highlight certain insights which other departments and teams can benefit from as well.

So really, it’s not a question of leadership doing away with management, but rather what can managers learn from leaders that will make them even better managers or leaders in their own capacity.

We expand on three leadership qualities and what managers can learn from each one below.

1. Leaders Provide Vision

Leaders don’t tell employees what to do–they paint a vision and inspire their employees. They live the values and lead the way towards the dream so that it can become a reality. While managing is a position, leadership is a quality.

Leaders aren’t status quo maintainers, and their goal isn’t to put checks in boxes. They are agents of change, hungry, disruptive innovators, who go all in and bring everyone with them. How does this happen? Not by directing, but coaching. Not by enforcing rules but by building relationships.

What Managers Can Learn: Managers want to be able to provide the type of vision for their units or teams. It’s just that 45% of managers report never receiving formal training on leading others and improving team efficiency and morale.

With the right training programs, not only can any manager be upskilled in building relationships and creating an engaging culture, but the message can be enforced down the ranks that such qualities are important for all.

2. Leaders Engage In Active Listening

How do you build great relationships with employees? One-on-ones are great for connecting with employees and hearing directly what’s on their minds; however, another rich channel to listen to employees is through third-person survey platforms. This gives an aggregated view on what potential issues in the team may be, and it’s an excellent medium to crowdsource information and better understand what conversations to have.

Employee engagement platforms help to highlight necessary themes and show what’s on employees’ minds while protecting anonymity. This helps to support and inspire better conversation during one-on-ones. Leaders listen frequently, to make the employee experience the best that it can be.

What Managers Can Learn: Any employee at any level of the organization can benefit from real-time feedback. The same applies to managers. While they have to manage their team members and report to their superiors, it’s a fantastic opportunity to both hear and be heard. Yes, managers may work from top-down after getting their instructions, but by actively listening, they too can build up team members from the bottom up.

3. Leaders Help Others Succeed

Leaders are others-focused. Rather than trying to make themselves look good, they build others up so that their employees can succeed. Leaders inspire and guide their employees towards an outcome. Instead of picking out problems, they help others find the solution.

Managers are asked to do more these days, where it isn’t possible to get away with micromanaging. Not only do they have to evaluate the performance of their team, but also manage people’s expectations and support their long-term goals.

What Managers Can Learn: In an article by Harvard Business Review, a Gartner survey reports that 47% of managers are prepared for a future role that requires more empathy. As the culture is evolving in the workplace with more remote roles, and more technology overtaking some of the more managerial work, the time is now to develop soft skills.

Remote work and more HR tech are rapidly digitizing the workspace, but the manager with soft skills will always be in demand, as that is something that cannot be substituted by any technology. Regardless of where people work and what tech is being used to do the work, the manager can always stand out by helping others succeed with their soft skills.

Future Wave of Leadership Feedback for Managers?

We know the reality of hierarchy that exists within most organizations. It’s why we began with the separation of characteristics between leaders and managers. Over time, due to the nature of roles, leaders/managers develop their own way of doing things.

But increasingly in the world of HR, we see the boundaries being blurred between the two where having leadership qualities is a bonus for any hire, especially a manager who is in a position to be a leader as they have people under their wings.

Just as leaders benefit from leadership feedback, the same concept applies to managers, where they also can be beneficiaries of such knowledge. By being open to criticism, seeing multiple points of view, and looking at certain survey scores benchmarked against the same department or the whole organization, the manager can expedite their learning curve.

While continuing to act in their roles, they can be a ‘Leader-Manager”, and be on the fast track for promotion and even greater leadership.

To create an effective leadership feedback process in your organization, talk to us.