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How to give and take feedback like a leader


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 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.



It ain't easy being Zen

staying positive is hard Greetings, my fellow voyagers on the road less traveled, aka YOUR OWN.

This is a quick post to acknowledge that we work very hard every day to

  • eat right
  • exercise
  • be nice
  • not frown
  • not slump in our seats
  • say please and thank you
  • follow our dreams
  • know our passions
  • resist temptation
  • walk the dog
  • change the diaper
  • give that presentation
  • and donate to charity.

All of these things are supposed to bring us closer to happiness, and all I'm saying today is that it's ok to be miserable for bit along the way.

Go on.

Close the door, draw the curtains, and feel what it is you're feeling. Overwhelm? Bring it on. Anger? Shout something. Anxiety? Get a fret on, I won't tell.

You have permission to question your quest for happiness, and then redefine the rules and make them work for you.



Go out and get what you want

20130101-233634.jpg "Your heart is free, have the courage to follow it." That's a quote from the Braveheart movie, 1997. When was the last time you took such empowering advice?

Well, take this as a permission slip.

Whatever you want to do, decide it, and do it.

Want to change jobs? Update your résumé, activate your network, search globally. Your options are endless, grab one. Want to go vegan? Stop buying animal and dairy products. If a traditional hotel in rural Germany is able to rustle up a tasty salad while 60 other guests are feasting on meat with all the trimmings, you can get your butt to Whole Foods and buy veggies. Stop making excuses, there is life after cheese. Want to write that book? Click on you word processing application right now. Go create. Then tell me about it in the comments or on facebook, I wanna hear about it.