How Did You Spend This Leap Day?
I spent this Leap Day snow skiing and experiencing lessons in leadership! I haven’t been snow skiing in 30 years and let me tell you – I felt it in every bone in my body on the first day of skiing. A bit too determined to recapture the glory years, I tried too hard to keep up with the expertise of my fellow travelers. Finally, ego aside, I signed up for ski lessons for the second morning. That’s when I realized that I had so much to learn….. and it was a bit overwhelming and intimidating. But I had progressed from unconscious incompetence (not knowing what I didn’t know) to the level of conscious incompetence – I knew what I needed to learn.
When I met Rich, the ski instructor, he asked what I wanted to focus on for the lessons. “My goal,” I said, “is to control my speed and turns.” I also told Rich, “I know that you can see what I’m doing better than I ever will, and you’ll be able to offer me constructive feedback on what I can do to correct, improve, or stop doing.”
As managers and leaders, offering specific feedback to employees is one of the most important skills you can develop. If employees don’t know what they are doing, they’ll keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, never knowing what they are doing, what needs improving, what needs eliminating.
Asking Rich to be my instructor was one of the best gifts that I could have given myself during this ski trip. With his keen eyes and sincere desire to assist, he was able to offer me specific feedback to help eliminate actions that were leading me to fall and implement new behaviors to keep me standing tall and moving with control down the slopes.
As leaders, if we hesitate to provide employees with specific feedback to improve performance, they may never know what they’re doing is off the mark and continue to repeat the same mistakes.