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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Jan 28, 2022


It’s easy for leaders to confuse feedback and coaching, but they are quite different.



Hello and welcome to episode 122 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we bring research to life in your leadership. This week we’re looking at the objectives of feedback and coaching, and why it’s important to understand how best to apply them.

Feedback and coaching are two core skills that all leaders need. However, we can often confuse the goals of feedback and coaching. As a result, we may be unclear about the type of conversation we’re having, confusing those we are speaking with. 

When we are providing feedback, the main goal is to increase awareness. This usually includes making someone aware of the impact they are having on others, either positive or negative.

When we are having a coaching conversation, the main goal is development. It isn’t primarily about the impact a person is having, but rather about ways they can become even better.

We need awareness before development. It’s almost impossible to develop if you don’t believe there is an opportunity to improve. But raising awareness, in and of itself, is not development. 

Here is where things can sometimes go wrong. A leader might frame a discussion as if it is coaching, when really they just want to provide feedback. Or the leader might offer someone feedback, when really they just want to tell the person what to do differently next time. 

Feedback can be a powerful tool to demonstrate progress and to identify strengths the person doesn’t see in themselves. Feedback might be something that encourages a person to continue developing and improving. Feedback can lead to an opportunity to coach someone, but feedback and coaching are different types of conversations.

If you’re going to have a conversation with an individual, try to keep it either focused on feedback or on coaching depending upon the goal. Combining or confusing the two often reduces the effectiveness of the conversation. 

So keep in mind - the goal of feedback is to increase awareness, while the goal of coaching is ongoing development. Be clear about what you are providing and why. Think about things from the perspective of the other person - what do they need from you? What is going to help them to progress?

And the most important take-away is that great leaders provide lots of feedback and undertake lots of coaching conversations. The really great leaders seek out feedback and coaching for themselves. Have a great week.

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