This article is one entry in a multi-part series of articles that will ultimately be compiled into a compendium.
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As a normal course of employment, you are subject to formal feedback. Annual reviews, periodic one-on-ones and so on will force you to provide and receive feedback. These official requirements are an attempt to reinforce how important it is to communicate up, down and sideways across your organization.
Interestingly, both when you are at an entry level and when you are at the senior-most levels (C-levels), you may not be as inclined to elicit information on your performance (or company performance) – and this is a big mistake.
As an entry level employee, you most need to know how you’re being perceived, beyond the official channels. This is a time when you’re establishing informal communication points and it’s key to establish these quickly. Seeking such information shows others that you’re engaged and aware of how important perceptions are. Informal channels may provide unforeseen opportunities.
But often, after a series of promotions, this need for feedback seems to diminish. Why is this? Sometimes this is because the workload increases as a career progresses and there just isn’t enough time to search for out-of-band feedback. In some organizations, senior management discussing performance with lowly staff is considered gauche and something that breaks the appearance of separation between executive management and staff. After all, when you make it to the upper rungs of management, there must be something really special about you, right?
The Servant Leader
“Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world”
The modern servant leader movement was created by Robert Greenleaf in his essay published in 1970 entitled “The Servant as a Leader” – but the idea is an ancient one. This style is related to ethical leadership where leaders are governed by rules to make sure their actions are just and align with the corporate culture.
Many organizations want servant leaders. The opposite would be leaders that practice autocracy, or command and control styles (authoritative). Both servant leaders and authoritative leaders can be effective depending on the situation. For example, during times of crisis where quick action is needed, autocratic decisions may be necessary. Let’s assume for this article that you want (or your organization wants) you to be a servant leader.
Servant leaders need their staff to be satisfied and content with their jobs. They want to make sure everyone is on board with the company direction and vision. They constantly check in to make sure the organization at all levels is moving in the right direction and that concerns are addressed. It encourages the staff participation in decision making, also known as participative management.
This is sometimes confused with “leadership by democracy” where leaders move forward based on consulting and gaining consensus on the appropriate path. That is not usually the case and not leadership at all!
Regardless of whether you want to be a true servant leader or even if you would prefer to be more authoritative, the feedback loop is key.
►Next : Ways to get that feedback.