Emerging Leaders, Session 3: Truly Effective Leaders Seek out the Assessments of Others

By Jeremy Sankwich

We have all received feedback from colleagues or managers. Compliments can be very refreshing while “constructive criticism” just tastes bad saying out loud. But shouldn’t feedback be more than just simple criticism and compliments?  Emerging Leaders has taught us a model for more effective feedback, called assessments. These are powerful tools within leadership.  

Delivering an Assessment – FSOW: For the Sake of What?

Susan Geear, vice president at DDJ Myers, Ltd. and Emerging Leaders facilitator and executive coach, uses a memorable phrase – “For the Sake of What?” or FSOW. Susan challenged us with a simple question: “Are you giving your assessment to build yourself up, or to help your teammate grow in their personal commitment?” 

Delivering an assessment to others should help them grow in their goals and role at the company. Not yourself. An effective assessment should also be grounded with a tangible example, so the receiver knows what to continue doing or perhaps change. Our final session took this learning from the whiteboard to the next level: Practice.

From an Emerging to an Effective Leader: The Story of Session 3

I like to compete in athletics. I think competition is important because it allows me to test my skills under pressure. I also enjoy it because I love the anticipation and nerves right before an event. At work in my credit union, there is one activity that produces the same kind of nerves: public speaking. With athletics, there are coaches and teammates to help us progress by assessing our performance and providing feedback. What if the same practice could be applied to public speaking? Feedback directly from the audience you just presented to? Welcome to session 3.

Throughout this program, we have all been working on a strategic project for our credit unions. Many of the projects chosen were executive-level in nature and will have a significant impact on that emerging leader’s credit union. 

After I presented to the group, Mel Monroe, director of finance at Maps Credit Union, offered me his assessment. “Great eye-contact, relax your body and smile more so you don’t look as serious, it allows the audience to be more engaged with you,” he said. Mel’s assessment was valuable to me because it was grounded with a tangible example and gave me something to work on – smile more.

What brought it all together though was coming back on the next day and presenting to the group again, after reflecting on all my assessments. It was in those 24 hours that we witnessed the most progress in each other.

The Next Step: Don’t Stop

None of us will outgrow this experience of Emerging Leaders. There is a certain vulnerability in asking others to provide assessments of you, but it produces growth and confidence. As Peter Myers (Emerging Leaders Facilitator and Executive Coach, Vice President at DDJ Myers, Ltd.) said, “Truly effective leaders continue to seek out the assessments of others.” 

My most significant growth as a businessman, as an athlete and as a person came when I was working with a leader skilled in delivering valuable feedback to me. Assessments that refined my skills, encouraged me and validated me; in a way that challenged and forced growth. This is the type of executive I aspire to become and this is what Emerging Leaders has allowed me to develop and practice. 

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

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