Last week I acted in a way that is misaligned with the guidance I give leaders, and with my own values.
I gave feedback.
That wasn’t the misalignment.
The misalignment was that I gave it from a place of reactivity. I gave it without asking 3 key questions:
- Is it true?
- Is it kind?
- Is it necessary?
Because I didn’t stop and recognize I was responding from a place of reactivity, I gave feedback that wasn’t an absolute “Yes” to each question.
I was in A Mood last week. A cranky cat. A grumpy Gus.
As I was stewing in my mood, I received a marketing email from an organization I work with, and it fed my crankiness.
It wasn’t a rude or inappropriate or offensive email. My issue had to do with the language used and how it created a sense of exclusivity.
So what did I do? I fired off a response with my feedback.
- 𝗪𝗮𝘀 𝗶𝘁 𝘁𝗿𝘂𝗲? Yes
- 𝗪𝗮𝘀 𝗶𝘁 𝗻𝗲𝗰𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗮𝗿𝘆? I do feel their messaging can negatively impact inclusivity, and that they’re so close to it and passionate about the work they probably don’t see it. So maybe?
- 𝗪𝗮𝘀 𝗶𝘁 𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗱? Not the way I wrote it. It wasn’t short or gentle. It was direct but harsh. I definitely could have provided the feedback in a kind(er) way.
But I was in “A Mood,” and rather than allowing my emotional intelligence to kick in and say “Hey, you’re in A Mood and reacting to this from that place … maybe give it a bit and rethink your response,” I … reacted. Not in alignment with my values.
So what now?
In a different situation, one that was interpersonal and 1:1, I’d own up to my actions and apologize. I can’t really do that in this case, so instead, the best thing I can do is learn from my actions, strive to improve in the future, and share my failures with others.
My goal in sharing this story here is to reinforce these truths:
- We all have Moods. We all react. To show up as the best leaders we can be, we need to do the work to build our emotional intelligence and keep doing the work to maintain it.
- As leaders, it’s imperative that we give feedback. But if you’re thinking about giving feedback and can’t answer those 3 questions with a resounding “Yes,” you need to stop and rethink it.
- It’s a leadership practice, not a leadership perfect. We all stumble. We all make mistakes. We grow as we make them.
- Growth comes in acknowledging when we screw up, taking accountability, and giving others the opportunity to learn from our mistakes.