Absurd!: We Want Not What We are Missing, but More of What We Already Have

by Ron Potter

Rocket feedback systemsFeedback. That word alone strikes fear in some and appreciation in others. The word was originally coined during the early days of rocketry. When the rocket scientist pioneers were trying to figure out how to design, build and fly rockets, they quickly found that they could generate enough thrust to make the rockets fly. What they couldn’t do was hit a target. They had to spend more time and brain power developing what they termed “feedback systems” so they could adjust the thrusters to hit the desired target.

If you look around any corporate team, thrust is not usually the problem. There is enough education, experience and drive to accomplish almost any goal. The problem is aligning all of that thrust to hit the desired target. Feedback is needed.

So why do we resist or ignore feedback? Farson tells us “One study shows that people wanted for themselves not something that was missing in them and that others might think important to them to have – but more of what was already their special attribute. When people described what they wanted for themselves, they seldom mentioned qualities that others would later suggest were missing from their personality or performance.”

Leadership teams are filled with people who have been good at what they do. It’s their expertise, knowledge, and productivity that has rewarded them through the years and brought them to a leadership role. The problem is that leadership requires trust, influence, and alignment of goals. Farson puts it this way “The difficulty for all of us is that our absorption with what we do well may blind us to what will enable us to do even better.   The particular challenge for managers is to remain mindful that organizations can set themselves up for trouble when they rely solely on the things they are already doing well and fail to see what they really need to do.”

We seldom need feedback on our technical skills or expertise. We need feedback to get better at leadership which includes building trust, aligning goals and creating a commitment to the overall good of the team and company.

Feedback is required to hit a target. What’s your target? Are you soliciting the needed feedback?

I’m continuing my series on an in-depth look at a wonderful little book that’s twenty years old this year. The title is Management of the Absurd by Richard Farson. You may want to consider dropping back and reading the previous blog posts about ABSURD! I think it will put each new one in great context.

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