Archives For Feedback

Please Stand By

liblostfound —  October 30, 2017 — Leave a comment


As you have probably noticed, nothing has been posted in almost three months. This is due to a few factors, but mostly life and work have been pretty crazy lately. Fortunately, things are beginning to settle down.

Our goal at LL&F is to reorganize, find new contributors and re-launch on January 1, 2018. If you are interested in becoming a contributor to the blog, please email

We will see you again next year with some great content about being a library leader. As you know, great leadership has been difficult to find lately.


In 2010, Green Peak Partners and Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations conducted a study about the importance of self-awareness as a trait for leaders. They found that a high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of success. I am not surprised by this.

photo of a brown owl looking in a mirror

cc-by Wagner Machado Carlos Lemes

Over the years I have met a few professionals who, when I hear them speak, I think “Yes! I agree completely!” Their philosophies match my own perfectly. However, then I find that their methods of following through on their ideas are actually demoralizing to staff, controlling, or insensitive. Their actions do not match the inspiration and enthusiasm of their words. Maybe they mistake aggression for assertiveness and are actually just a jerk with good ideas, or maybe they have no idea how they are coming across to others. That is, they mean well but have no self-awareness.

When hiring leaders, we should ask the candidates about how they accomplish their work, rather than just be impressed by the laundry list of important projects they have completed. We should also be sure that when we call their professional references, we ask about the candidates’ self-awareness. Not just “What are their strengths and weaknesses?”, but “How do they improve themselves?” and “How do they gain feedback?”. The important part here is how they gather feedback.

You can also use personality tests like Myers-Briggs or StrengthsFinder as part of the hiring process for positions of leadership. Are you hiring a personality type that complements those already on staff, and among those whom they will work most closely? Are you hiring a personality type that is compatible with the goals of the institution?

Leaders, to you I suggest putting yourself in your co-workers’ shoes. If your boss had this decision to make, this procedure to put in place, or this project to complete, how would you want to receive the information? What would make you feel included and empowered? Look at the last few big projects you completed. How do you think your co-workers would describe your effectiveness? Be honest, and take into consideration the areas you know to be your weaknesses.

If anyone has other good ideas about self-awareness and leadership, I’d love to hear them in the comments!


Honest feedback is a priceless gift whether the nature of the information is positive or negative. Positive feedback makes us feel awesome. Negative feedback gives us information about where we can grow. But any feedback, let alone honest feedback can be impossible for leaders to obtain. It can be hard for direct reports to communicate feedback in a direct way. But leadership without good feedback, can be lonely at best and ineffective at worst.

A few years ago, I made a pact with myself to become a person who embraces feedback, whether positive or negative. I’m still at it, honestly, but I’ve grown a lot in this area.

Here are five practices that helped:

  1. Listen. Listen. Listen. I’m of the opinion that we could all use a little tune-up in this area, especially with the amount of information that passes our eyes and desks in a given day. Good listening requires constant attention to the words and the tone of those around us. It can be hard to slow down and truly hear what people are saying but we learn so much from it.
  2. Say it and make it true. Telling people “I welcome feedback on this”, kind of means you have to actually welcome feedback. So say that phrase, or something like it, often and then be the kind of person who follows through on it.
  3. View negative feedback first as information. Don’t take it personally and allow yourself to react defensively. This is a hard one for me. Nobody wants to hear that something they are doing is not “right.” I used to think the goal in life was to never make a mistakes (Ha!) and I dreaded negative feedback. Now I remind myself that feedback is first and foremost a piece of information. It may or may not be accurate. It may not be something I can change. But my first responsibility is to hear it and take it in. And then I can respond carefully.
  4. Let feedback prompt action. Whether positive or negative, feedback should prompt us to act. We might just need to say, “Thank you for this feedback. I will consider it.” Or we might need to ask for a broader opinion on that topic. Regardless of the needed action, feedback is an ongoing conversation that prompts us to adjust, move forward, and if we let it, shapes us into better leaders.
  5. Give good feedback. If we give good feedback, we are more likely to get good feedback in return and we foster a working environment where good communication flourishes. Feedback should be honest, specific, and direct. We might have thoughts about a lot of things but if we can’t be specific and share directly with the person who needs it, our feedback can become another source of noise without much impact. As we learn to give helpful feedback, we’re more likely to get helpful feedback in return.

What are your best tips for learning to embrace feedback? What can be a road block to receiving feedback as a leader? 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at