Hello, and welcome to the Leadership Done Right Podcast, Episode 34: Feedback — The Most Powerful Keys to Success with Kevin Kruse.
Get to Know Kevin
With that goal in mind, he founded LEADx, a next generation online learning company that offers free leadership training and professional development to everyone, everywhere, at any time.
He also continues to make time to personally work with leaders around the world including Marine Corps officers in the Pentagon, non-profit leaders in Pakistan, and entrepreneurs in Kenya.
New York Times Bestselling Author
His previous companies have won Inc 500 and Best Place to Work awards, and he is a New York Times bestselling author of six books.
We connected back in 2013, and I have followed him on his website and podcast ever since. I am honored and humbled to have him on the show today. Our guest today is Kevin Kruse. Kevin, welcome to the show!
Entrepreneurship to Leadership
From age 21 on, Kevin has always started and run companies. “When I think back on my early failures, it’s been either because I didn’t know how to use time to be productive, or because I didn’t know how to lead people. I didn’t understand the importance of leadership.”
“Leadership is really THE most important variable to having a successful life, whether you’re in business or not. When I sold the last company, I decided that while I am taking some time away from being an entrepreneur, let me just explore, think harder, and share what I have learned about leadership and productivity. It’s been kind of a one decade pause to reflect on what’s worked for me and what hasn’t.”
Feedback — The Most Powerful Key to Success
One of the most powerful things we can do for our team members is to give them feedback. That feedback should be corrective and supportive feedback. That helps motivate them and also allows them to improve.
The Challenge of Giving Feedback
“I was horrible at that [giving corrective feedback]. I didn’t have a problem with saying, ‘Thanks’ or ‘Hey, you did a good job.’ But I am non-confrontational by nature, I’m an introvert. To bring up to someone who may also be a friend, something that they were doing poorly or should stop, was very difficult for me. And, it is for a lot of people. It never feels good to give someone negative feedback.”
“I would always have excuses for why I wouldn’t do it. I would always think, today is such a bad day. I’ll do it at the end of the week. Then the end of the week would come and I would say, ‘Oh, well, they’re busy on that project. I’ll wait until the end of the month when the project is over.’ Then the end of the month would be there and I’d say, ‘Nah, I’ll put it in their annual performance review because that’s only six months away.’ So, it’d just never get addressed. That’s not good for anybody.”
How to Give Effective Feedback
For feedback to be effective, it must be given in a timely manner. “I changed when I learned that employee engagement will actually go up the more feedback we get. We want to get better. We want our bosses to be our coaches.”
“So all the time I was withholding feedback thinking, ‘Oh, I don’t want to hurt their feeling. I don’t want to make them mad.’ I was just in it to protect myself and the reality was they were probably thinking, ‘Why isn’t Kevin ever giving me any guidance here? Why doesn’t he ever give me any feedback? Is he checked out?’”
“Once I saw the data that people actually want feedback and they actually feel better when they get feedback, I learned how to give it. You focus it on the behavior and not the person. You explain to them the impact it is having. Then you get an agreement about what to do about it. It’s not fun, but I can do it more effectively now.”
Think About the Person and Their Improvement
When giving feedback, there can be personal barriers. It is hard to sit across from someone to tell them what they need to do better. “If you believe that feedback is hurting someone, you’re not going to want to do it. But, if you believe feedback is helping people, we all want to help people. It was a change in my belief system that led to a change in my behavior system. Feedback is something you do for people, not to people. Once you believe that, then it’s easy to help people and it becomes a little easier.”
Leadership is Influence
Leadership is influence. If you had to boil leadership down to one word, it would be, ‘influence’. Everybody is a leader whether they want to be or not. Leadership is not a choice. You’re a leader whether you want to be or not. We lead people around us even if we are not intentional about it. We influence people all the time with what we do and don’t do. You are always leading whether you want to be or not.
The Speed Round
- Who is the one leader you look up to most and why? General Ron Bailey, who just retired as a four-star general in the United States Marine Corp. He’s a guy I saw managing a war from the Pentagon. Then the very next day we would be at an event for inner-city youth and he would be at a table of inner-city youth handing out his mobile phone number saying, “If you ever get in trouble, give me a call. If you ever have a problem, give me a call.” He was a man of power and high up, but he still made himself accessible and available to a bunch of teenagers.
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? I’ve asked people questions through the years, but there is nothing monumental that sticks out.
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? Throw out your to-do list and live from your calendar. Put everything you want to do in life on a day, date, and time. Don’t actually have a to-do list.
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There by Marshal Goldsmith
- On a light-hearted note, what is your favorite hobby? Maker’s Mark Whisky and Netflix at least one or two nights a week.
Connect With Kevin Kruse
What’s the best way to connect with Kevin?
- Podcast: LEADx Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher
- Website: LEADx.org — Visit the site to get a free leadership video everyday.
- Email: kevin@Leadx.org
One Final Question
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice when you first started your leadership journey, what would it be and why? Feedback is a gift, not a punishment. If there’s one behavior that I wish I’d started using early on, it’s the ability to give effective feedback.
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Thanks again for listening! My goal is to help you become a great leader, now go be the best leader you can be!