How to give and take feedback like a leader
Today's lesson comes from the The West Wing, a TV show about White House staff and what they get up to.
The scene you'll find transcribed below, courtesy of westwingtranscripts.com is between the President Dr. Bartlet and his aid Toby. Wish I could show you a clip, but that would be illegal.
The observation here is this:
Great leaders ask for feedback, hear it, acknowledge it, and accept what's true.
Great team members provide feedback, even and especially if it's constructive, as a sign of respect.
And guess what: that makes you a leader, too. Taking responsibility.
When was the last time you reminded your boss of his shortcomings?
Takes courage, no doubt about it, but if it's the congruent thing to do, do it.
TOBY Was David Rosen your first choice for my job? BARTLET [looks away] Yes. TOBY Well, I'm glad we had this little talk, sir. I feel a lot better. Thank you, sir. [laughs] BARTLET We were up all night on that one, Toby. Me and Leo and Josh. They were screaming at me, 'Governor, for God's sakes, it's got to be Toby. It's got to be Toby.' When I held my ground, and we went to David Rosen, and Rosen said he wanted to take a partnership at Solomon Brothers, thank God... I couldn't live without you Toby. I mean it. I'd be in the tall grass. I'd be in the weeds... I know I disappoint you sometimes. I mean I can sense your disappointment. And I only get mad because I know you're right a lot of the times, but you are not the kid in the class with his hand up and whatever it was you said to C.J. You are a wise and brilliant man, Toby...
The other night when we were playing basketball, did you mean what you said? My demons were shouting down the better angels in my brain? TOBY Yes, sir. I did. BARTLET You think that's what's stopping me from greatness? TOBY Yes. BARTLET I suppose you're right.
TOBY Tell you what though, sir. In a battle between a President's
demons and his better angels, for the first time in a long while, I think we might just have ourselves a fair fight. BARTLET Thank you, Toby. [beat] Now, go away.
Image by Cliff, Flickr, Creative Commons License.