Do people see you as a leader?

Does your team look at you like a leader?

They might not. 

As you transition into new levels of leadership and start leading people who were your peers OR bring people on board to scale your business, it’s natural for imposter syndrome to creep in. We’ve all been there!

Here is the question you need to ask yourself: Are you giving them feedback and holding them accountable?

You can’t be an effective leader without challenging your team and supporting their growth. And while you might be worried being critical will damage relationships, the truth is avoiding accountability will destroy your team’s culture.

Take a look at this data from Zippia:

  • 65% of employees desire more feedback.
  • Companies that invest in regular employee feedback have 14.9% lower turnover rates than organizations where employees do not receive feedback.
  • Four out of ten employees who receive little to no feedback are actively disengaged from their work.

69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were being recognized through feedback.

Leadership is hard.

Keep building on your team’s strengths, but don’t forget your team WANTS you to help them get better.

When they don’t feel supported and challenged, they will become disengaged and eventually move on.

As a leader and business owner, I know you don’t want this. But disengagement is a nasty, unwanted side effect of not holding your team accountable or providing them with timely, specific feedback.

Giving feedback is like clearing the weeds out of the garden

Metaphor Time!!

Hoping your team will make changes without you giving them the feedback directly is like hoping weeds in your garden will go away when you ignore them.

It. Won’t. Happen.

As a leader, you are fostering growth for every person on your team. In addition to making sure your plants get enough sunlight and water, you need to be sure weeds aren’t there to steal all the nutrients. 

Giving your team feedback is like pulling weeds out of the garden. You can support your team in hitting their goals by ensuring their hard work isn’t derailed by bad habits. 

Get your hands dirty and pull those weeds before they ruin everything!

(I’m giving this metaphor a solid 8.73.)

Suggested reading: Radical Candor and Nonviolent Communication.

Both will help you level up your communication skills.

If you want help with an actual garden, I, unfortunately, can not help you. Every plant in my house would likely be dead without the help of my girlfriend. 

How you can give feedback (even if you are a people pleaser)

Giving feedback is building freedom.

As a leader, it is your job to tell your team things you observe will help them be better, but it can be overwhelming when you are new to a team or if you’ve never had to give feedback. 

Your team won’t look at you as a leader if you aren’t giving them feedback and holding them accountable.

I can help.

Here are 4 steps to giving better feedback to your team:

1) Remember, feedback is about an action, not a person

Remember that the feedback you are giving is not about defining who a person is. It’s about a thing that they are doing that is holding them back from reaching their potential. You can still like them and give them recognition for things going well, but also make sure they are making small changes to get even better.

🔎 Don’t use the sandwich method. It is the worst. When change is needed, make that the focus of the conversation.

2) Focus on the future, not the present

If you are struggling to give feedback, you are likely really concerned with how the person is feeling at the moment. Stop focusing your attention here. Instead, focus on how they will feel in the future because they are seeing the benefits of implementing your feedback.

Feedback is about lifting up the people around us and helping them be better.

Keep it simple and steal this framework:

(Make these statements your own, but use this structure–it works.)

  • This is something you do well.”
  • Here is a change you can make to help you be even better.”
  • Here is the positive impact you’ll see when you start making this change consistently.”
  • “What support do you need from me to get started?

3) Assume the best intentions.

Nobody wakes up and decides to be terrible at their job every day. 

You’ll help your team reach their potential by assuming they are doing their best but something is getting in their way. Showing people you believe in their best intentions is all about your tone and word choice.

Verbal Judo is a great resource to help you see the way.

The 5 Universal Truths of Verbal Judo 

  • Everyone needs to be treated with respect 
  • Everyone needs to be asked rather than told 
  • Everyone needs to know why they are being asked 
  • Everyone needs real options instead of threats 
  • Everyone needs a second chance

🔎This book is a great resource for anyone looking to dive in further.

Follow up, follow up, follow up

After a conversation, as a leader, you need to Inspect what you Expect.

Change happens much quicker when your team knows you are going to follow up and confirm the change is being made. Without following up, you won’t be able to recognize, coach, or hold people accountable when they miss commitments. 

Your job when giving feedback is to set them up for success, so when you follow up, you can celebrate a job well done. But when they miss commitments or come across unexpected obstacles, you’ll be able to coach them to areas of opportunity. 

🔎Put follow-up time on your calendar during the conversation. Reinforcing the change is necessary, don’t treat it as optional.

One more thing.

Change is a gradual process. Be patient. When creating change with yourself and others, focus on ONE impactful change at a time. 

You’ll be amazed by the momentum you can create by treating change as a gradual process. It is a big deal!

Jacob Espinoza is a leadership coach in Salem, Oregon. For more information visit

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