During the Gold Rush in the mid 1800s, roughly 300,000 people traveled to California in hopes
of striking it rich in mining. As you can imagine, the traveling conditions were less than ideal. However,
for those seeking gold the sacrifices and risks were considered worth it. After months of
traveling, the hard work began for hopeful 49ers as they began breaking down giant rocks,
wading in mud, and endless panning. What if we were willing to put in that kind of work in the
pursuit of our next level of extraordinary?
As leaders we have plenty of feedback offered to us. Sometimes being flung from behind the
magical curtain of anonymous surveys and other times directly shared with us face to face.
Regardless of the delivery, sifting through the criticism to find the treasure is worth it. I
understand there may not always be a small nugget of wisdom or insight gained, but almost
always there is at least one treasure that can be mined. Once the drama or personal issues are
removed, there is typically an objective nugget of criticism worth mining in pursuit of excellence
Being able to put aside defensiveness, to peel back layers of personal issues, and simply get to
the core message of the feedback is an art. Just the same as panning for gold is an art and a
learned skill, finding the treasure in criticism can be as well. What is the silt that needs to get
out of the way? What rocks need to be broken down? While it might seem tedious at times, as
leaders, we can learn how we might be getting in our own way.
What are the barriers that keep us from influencing each other in a positive way? What
adjustments could we make in our communication style that would benefit everyone? How
could we pivot in a way that would be empowering based on this specific nugget of insight?
These are helpful questions to consider, because at the heart of strong leadership is the desire
to positively impact each person in a way that leads them toward their next level of
Leaders who invite regular feedback could potentially do a lot more panning and sifting than
those who shut down raw feedback from team members. All of that panning for a tiny piece of
gold? YES. Yes, because the way we influence others is important. Yes, because our growth as
leaders is important. Yes, because being able to shift in a way that allows us and the
organization to efficiently move forward with unified purpose is worth it.
Creating a culture where feedback is welcomed and valued inevitably reinforces the message to
team members that THEY are valued. Their thoughts matter. Their perspective matters. Their
experiences matter. Setting this example overflows to help shape company culture. Instead of
setting an example of defensiveness and excuses, simply try to sift through the possible drama
and personal conflict to find the gold.
Do you have regular check-ins with your team members? Is there an established culture where
feedback is welcome? What could you shift to provide a more consistent rhythm of growth throughout the organization? How can we show others we are fighting for their greatest
possible good? Modeling that commitment to personal growth toward excellence and
extraordinary is a gift to the entire team. And following that growth comes celebration for wins
both big and small. Feedback matters because person and mission matter deeply. For leaders,
the success of the team is worth learning the art of panning for the gold in criticism.
Read our last blog at Royal Coaching Colorado.
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