How Everyone Can Benefit From a Leadership Feedback Survey

leadership feedback survey

A leadership feedback survey can be a powerful leadership development tool. Strong leaders know they are always learning and still growing. They aren’t shy about asking questions and seeking feedback from others. They acknowledge when they’re wrong and they seek to continuously improve. What’s more, a leadership feedback survey doesn’t just benefit the leader, its effects can ripple through the entire organization.

The Top-Down Impact of a Leadership Feedback Survey

Top-down gets a bad rap in leadership. It can feel vertical, hierarchical and not very collaborative. But when you’re talking about the benefits of a leadership feedback survey, top down is what you want. That’s because teams tend to reflect their leaders. And when a leader demonstrates a growth mindset by engaging in a survey process, their team is more likely to adopt a growth mindset, give and receive feedback constructively, and trust decisions made by their leader.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of a Leadership Feedback Survey

Obvious benefits aside, the leadership feedback survey process isn’t foolproof. Here are some of the pitfalls to avoid:

Don’t Misuse the Survey

One of the biggest complaints about leadership feedback surveys has to do with its misuse as a performance management tool to call out bad leaders. If you know you’ve got a bad seed in your bunch, there are better first steps to take.

It Should Be a Positive Experience

Leadership feedback surveys are a growth and development tool. Growth and development are positive things. If you’ve got disgruntled employees or a defensive boss, the process might not go the way you intended. You might consider delaying the feedback process until you’ve done some trust-building. Or, you could take certain steps to mitigate any harmful effects—like narrowing the focus to specific areas, communicating effectively about the survey process to clearly define goals and expectations, allowing anonymous responses, and enlisting the help of a coach to review the feedback with the leader.

The Real Work Starts When the Survey Ends

Administering a survey without acting on it is like cooking a four-course meal that no one tries. That’s an awful lot of effort for little to no payoff. What’s worse, a survey process that doesn’t result in visible growth and development for the leader might even backfire. That’s one of the reasons we designed our leadership feedback report (see sample here) to be easy to read and even easier to act upon. Collecting the feedback is only the beginning—what you do with it is where the real work (and the real value) occurs.