11 Mar Wisdom through feedback

“Don’t be buffaloed by experts and elites. Experts often possess more data than judgment. Elites can become so inbred that they produce hemophiliacs who bleed to death as soon as they are nicked by the real world.”

These are the words of General Colin Powell, statesman, former National Security Advisor and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Why are intellectuals held in such contempt by most people?  Because intellectuals tend to confuse facts with wisdom, when they are not the same.

Wisdom means knowing how to act. If you don’t know how to act you will behave like an idiot.

The Reality Check:

listening to feedback from the teamEarly in March, I, along with members of our team from Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, spent three days attending a training course.

Among the concepts we learned: a healthy company needs to maintain open communication in all directions. That means leaders must listen and pay attention to each member of the team, and team members must listen and pay attention to leaders.

One of the reasons this is so important is that it ensures that everyone holds each other accountable. It’s a reality check, without which we are all more likely to behave like idiots. No one is perfect.

Any person in a group can figure out how to behave relatively normally by observing how the others in the group behave. This is possible even in unfamiliar surroundings, such as with a group of strangers.

Every person has faults and failings, naturally, but we can rely on the feedback of others – even those who we have never met before – to help keep us normal.

Encouraging Feedback:

Sometimes a leader of a group stops paying attention to the team. This might be just due to inadequate time management or prioritisation skills. Sometimes the reason may also be that the team members are keeping their feedback to themselves.

These two causes are often intertwined; a leader who does not ask for feedback, will often not receive any, and an employee who is not encouraged to give feedback will see no reason to do so. 

This is why, in my weekly emails to my team I have been encouraging more and more feedback.  This is also why we now have weekly meetings in both Toronto and Vancouver – to allow an open forum for feedback.

It is very important in a company that strives for success, that each team member feels comfortable enough to approach a manager with problems, questions or suggestions. Managers should care about such things, and indeed at Qualifirst, we do, very much. We will listen.

Feedback from the team is the essential information that will keep a company moving forward in a way that is beneficial for everyone – employees and customers alike. Without this direct practical knowledge, all a leader has is data, but no wisdom.

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