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Getting The Most From Feedback As A Physician

What physician leaders can do to improve their effectiveness.

So, you thought you were doing okay on the job—but your performance review is not what you expected.  Or you finally land the new job you wanted at big pharma—and then you experience your first 360° review.  How do others perceive you on the job?  How do the views of your manager, direct reports, and peers compare to how you perceive yourself? 

You may think of yourself in terms of your good intentions and potential to take on more responsibilities.  You may also be thinking about your self-confidence, expectations for growth and development, and personal values.  But others are thinking in terms of your behaviors, your reputation and track record, their expectations of your performance, and your “perceived” values.  How do you deal with feedback from others regarding your leadership—and what can you do to be more effective?

Keep in mind that great leaders drive better results.  They convey a sense of purpose that motivates others, they build the best teams, and they are good role models.  Simply put, a great leader is someone others would be willing to follow.  How can you use feedback to make your good performance even better?            

Helpful Tips               

  • Have an open mind
  • Take time to understand
  • Show appreciation
  • Follow through
  • Turn good to great       

 Things to Avoid

  • Asking others to publicly explain their feedback
  • Over-reacting
  • Acting too slowly
  • Focusing only on the low scores

After you get your feedback, follow these three simple steps.  First, analyze your feedback results.  Seek first to understand what you are hearing—and how it relates to your job.  As a former boss taught me years ago, “Feedback is a gift.”  It’s like an open-book test—and will guide you to actions you can take to improve your performance.  Second, ask yourself the “Questions to Consider” listed below.  You will need to have an open mind—and be honest with yourself.  And finally, spend some time in reflection.  As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Love your enemies—for they tell you your faults.”                                      

Questions to Consider When Analyzing Feedback

Understanding the feedback

  • Have you received this kind of feedback (this particular message) before?
  • What would your closest friends tell you about this?
  • What other observations have you or other people made that relate to this?
  • Is there a specific work relationship that you think might be helpful to work on?
  • Is this something you feel you can change?

 Exploring the Importance of the Feedback

  • Have you worked for a leader who needed to work on this type of area (difficulty or improvement opportunity)?  How did it affect you?
  • How does this issue relate to your effectiveness as a leader?
  • What is going to help you deliver better results?
  • What will make you a truly extraordinary leader?

 Generating Ideas

  • Which of your skills would be most helpful to you in working in this area?  (How can you leverage your strengths?)
  • What have you done in the past that you thought was really effective in this area?
  • Can you think of exemplary leaders around you that are particularly good in this area?  What have you observed them doing?  Do you think any of them would be willing to serve as a mentor for you?
  • Whose opinion do you really respect on this?  Would they be willing to help?

Focusing on a weakness is appropriate, when the weakness is a potential derailment factor.  Strong negative data on an important issue can cripple a person’s leadership effectiveness.  

The Most Common Derailers

  • Inability to practice self-development (specifically by failing to learn from mistakes).  In most cases, it is not a matter of can’t—it is won’t.
  • Lack of core interpersonal skills
  • Lack of openness to new or different ideas (resulting in a failure to innovate or lead change).  Some people simply get stuck in their ways. 
  • Lack of accountability (failure to focus on results)
  • Failure to take initiative.  Don’t assume that what got you where you are today will take you where you need to be in the future.  You will need to take action to continuously improve your performance and leadership potential. 

Change Requires Practice

Frequently, people underestimate the difficulty of change.  A key to developing a new skill is finding a way to practice.  Look for opportunities to broaden your exposure to your business and consider engaging a mentor.


  • Great leaders make a difference.  
  • Spend more time building your strengths.  
  • Companion behaviors provide new pathways to leadership effectiveness.
  • If you have a derailment factor, work on it.

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