Tag Archives: feedback

Training or Mentorship to Build Leadership Skills?

Peter Harms

Leadership development services are at least a USD $134 billion annual expenditure in the US, leading many to question the estimated and actual Return on Investment (ROI).

Paul Lester

Paul Lester

A six-month study of U.S. Military Academy cadets at West Point provided answers.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Peter Harms collaborated with Paul Lester of the U.S. Army Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Directory, U.S. Military Academy’ Sean Hanna, Gretchen Vogelgesang of Federal Management Partners, and University of Washington’s Bruce Avolio to evaluate:

Sean Hanna

– Sean Hanna

  • -Candidates’s readiness to receive candid feedback from multiple sources,
  • Mentoring from a supportive leadership coach,

-Realistic advancement opportunities in the organization.

Bruce Avolio

Participants were randomly assigned to an individual mentorship program or classroom-based group leadership training.

Those who participated in the mentorships were significantly more likely to report increased confidence in assuming a leadership role than those in the classroom training.

The mentoring group’s effectiveness was significantly related to the mentorship coaches’ ability to:

  • Establish a trust-based collaborative relationship,
  • Provide support,
  • Offer candid observational feedback,
  • Advocate for cadets who exercise leadership.

Additionally, participants who reported greatest gains in leadership skills and confidence were:

  • Open to receiving candid feedback from mentors,
  • Willing to receive challenging developmental feedback.

The least expensive approach to leadership development did not produce the greatest results, suggesting the value of individualized leadership coaching

Ted Kaptchuk

Ted Kaptchuk

The powerful effect of individual attention was demonstrated when attention from experts provided a placebo effect for 250 patients with documented symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Those who received the most individualized attention in three no-treatment conditions reported the greatest symptom relief even though they received no medical intervention and participants were informed that the “treatment” was a placebo, reported Harvard’s Ted Kaptchuk.

The most important “active ingredient” in leadership development training may be personalized attention, followed by candidates’s willingness to receive candid feedback and to implement recommendations.

 -*How has personalized mentoring helped you develop leadership competencies?

©Kathryn Welds


Practice Outweighs Talent in Developing Expert Performance

Daniel Coyle

Daniel Coyle

Journalist Daniel Coyle consolidated neuroscience research with stories of expert performers in The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How .
He distilled three principles that enable performance development across a variety of skills and fields: The Talent Code

“Deep” Practice, which includes daily repetition for up to several hours, observation, and corrective feedback by an expert to develop the myelin of “muscle memory” and increase neural signal strength, speed and accuracy.
This practice must be characterized by focused attention to mimic expert performance, reduce errors, and willingness to practice at increasingly more challenging levels.

Ignition, or commitment based on “unconscious desires” and “triggered by primal cues”

Master Coaching, in which to expert teacher encourages “ignition” and “deep” practice with:

1. Task-specific knowledge explained with vivid examples and meaningful metaphors
2. Perceptive tailoring to each student’s skills and needs
3. “The GPS Reflex”, or providing timely, specific guidance
4. “Theatrical Honesty,” or ability to empathically connect with students

K Anders Ericcson

K Anders Ericsson

Related Posts review foundational research by K. Anders Ericsson, who suggested that expert performance requires “10000 hours of practice.”

Geoff Colvin

Geoff Colvin

Talent is Overrated

Talent is Overrated

Like Coyle, Geoff Colvin argues that Talent is Overrated and can be eclipsed by systematic practice with corrective coaching.

Paul Herr’s Primal Management: Unraveling the Secrets of Human Nature to Drive High Performance also argues that motivation in the workplace, as in Coyle’s broader discussion of performance and motivation, is based on the “evolutionary psychology” of “tribal survival” and includes:

Paul Herr

Paul Herr

  • Self-Protection, the foundation of Maslow’s hierarch of higher-order needs

    Abraham Maslow

    Abraham Maslow

  • Cooperation, collaborative work in groups fulfills people’s social desires to belong to a group working toward a shared goal
  • Skill deployment, opportunity to develop skills and experience satisfaction with progressive improvement
  • Competency, opportunity to demonstrate skills and receive social recognition for these improvements
  • Innovation, based on people’s curiosity and desire to make in processes, systems, ideas, Primal Managementevents

-*How do you develop your talents?

-*Where do you find expert coaching?

-*How do you persist in “Deep Practice” even when it’s “no fun”?

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: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary
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©Kathryn Welds

Positive to Negative Feedback Ratios – 3:1 @ work, 5:1: @ home

Sandra Mashihi

Sandra Mashihi

Envisia’s Kenneth Nowack and Sandra Mashihi provided “evidence-based answers” to 15 questions about leveraging 360-degree feedback.

Kenneth Nowack

Kenneth Nowack

Their first question was “Does 360-degree feedback do more harm than good”?
Nowack and Mashihi concluded that found “poorly-designed 360-degree feedback assessments and interventions can increase disengagement and contribute to poor individual and team performance.”

Specifically, individuals can “experience strong discouragement and frustration” when feedback is not as affirming as anticipated.
In addition, negatively-perceived information may be discounted and disregarded.

John Gottman’s studies of positive-to-negative interaction ratios in marriage suggest that intact and well-functioning marriages have a a 5:1 ratio, and research by his colleagues, Schwartz and team, found a similar effect for 360-feedback sessions, though the ratio was closer to 3:1 to encourage  enhanced individual and team performance, individual workplace engagement, effectiveness, and emotional “flourishing,” according to Frederickson and Losada.

Proportions of negative feedback and interactions that exceed these ratios can interfere with insight and motivation and diminish willingness to engage in work-related practice and performance effectiveness.

Barbara Fredrickson suggested in Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive that this 3:1 ratio of positive to negative feedback is a “tipping point.”

UCLA’s Naomi Eisenberger and Matthew Lieberman collaborated with Kipling Williams of  Macquarie University to demonstrate the physical and emotional impact when people are overloaded of negative feedback:  The same neurophysiologic pathways associated with physical pain are triggered.
Under these circumstances, volunteers reported higher levels of physical pain and demonstrate diminished performance on a cognitively-demanding task, according to Purdue’s Zhansheng Chen, Williams and  Julie Fitness of Macquarie University, and University of New South Wales’s Nicola C. Newton.


Anyone providing evaluations or 360-degree feedback may organize and “titrate” negative (“constructive”) feedback to remain within tolerable ratios so that those receiving this coaching can assimilate and execute recommendations.

-*What ratios of positive to negative feedback do you apply in helping others improve performance?

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