Wow, Your Email!
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

Last week I was meeting with one of my coaching clients and he shared something that I don’t think he understood the value of. One of my questions is, “What have you learned since our last session?” My client shared that one of his direct reports called him out for a rather harsh email. Please realize that my coaching client wasn’t at all upset that his team member called him out. He went on to explain to me that when he is rushed and needs to communicate something quickly, he sends out an email. What he hadn’t realized is that these emails are often rather curt. Factual, but curt. I was so impressed with the way he reacted to this. I was equally impressed that his team member called him out about it. (For full transparency, I asked him if he minded me sharing this as one of my weekly posts.)

Consider what needs to be in place for a team to be open enough to call out a leader for sending rather blunt emails. My client has set up an environment where this is not only okay but welcomed. He has taken the necessary steps over the years to make the environment safe for people to speak up. The best leaders encourage and reward people for speaking up. This starts by asking for feedback and welcoming it via 360-degree assessments and frequent one-on-one conversations where a leader will ask if they are doing anything that gets in the way of the team member’s ability to perform at their highest level. My client had a 360 about four years ago and is now asking for a new one. He seeks feedback from me, his team, his peers, and his senior leader. Each time we meet I find him open and ready to learn more about himself and the best ways to lead and develop others.

Since he is always looking for ways to improve and grow, he reacted appropriately to his team member’s feedback. He took the time to look inward and see why his emails were written in such a way that people felt he was perhaps angry or upset. As he reflected, he realized that he was allowing a time crunch to adversely affect his communication. Notice that he didn’t justify his behavior, he reflected on it so he could correct it.

Whenever I see this client’s name on my calendar, I look forward to our meeting and know it will be a great session because his goal is always to grow and get better as a leader. How about you? Are you a leader that is open to feedback with a growth mindset?