Career Crashing Leadership

By Tom Davidson

Your feedback-free zone could be a recipe for disaster. If you had the ability, would you tell your best friend that he or she was headed straight for a cliff at 90 miles an hour, or would you let them go? Worse yet, would you tell them what a great driver they are while they’re on their way to disaster?

Unfortunately, new managers, experienced supervisors and even top executives do this very thing all the time. They do it by not providing honest feedback, by sugarcoating feedback, or by avoiding the hard conversation altogether, hoping the situation will fix itself or go away.

Are you one of these well-intentioned career crashers? It might not be your intention to let your associates drive off a cliff, but that’s what you may be doing.

Why don’t everyday leaders step in to avert disaster? It’s hard to confront performance problems because:

  1. It puts the relationship in jeopardy.
  2. It requires time and preparation.
  3. It requires facts, skill and courage.

Back to the speeding-car analogy, would you hesitate to tell your best friend they are headed for disaster because it’s too hard, because they might not like you as much, or because you’re not perfect at the task?

If this seems ridiculous, that’s because it is.

Don’t be a career crasher. Step up to the challenge by doing some or all of the following:

  1. Take your organization’s performance review process seriously, and ask for training and guidance on how best to perform this function.
  2. Learn how to give and receive feedback, and demonstrate openness to feedback yourself as way of learning and developing a feedback-rich environment.
  3. Balance your feedback with both firmness about the problem and substantial support for getting your associates back on track and headed in a better direction.

It’s your job to stop your people from driving off a cliff. If you don’t do it, no one else will. That’s the nature of the job, and it’s the nature of leadership.

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