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What's the Real Purpose of Feedback?

Did you ever attend a state fair when you were a child? When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait until September. The state fair signaled the end of summer and the beginning of fall. I loved the cooler temperatures, the carnival rides and the fun house. There was always an array of carnival mirrors. My favorite mirror was the one that made me look taller. I knew it was an illusion. But, it was still fun for the moment. I could pretend that I was seven feet tall.

In simple terms, there are two types of mirrors: those that provide an accurate reflection and those that distort. The same principle applies to leadership. Think of a mirror as an opportunity for feedback. Accurate feedback is a gift. Distorted feedback creates an illusion. Are the hallways of your organization lined with fun house mirrors or does your leadership culture reflect open, honest and accurate feedback?

Authentic leaders crave truthful feedback. It’s one of the essential building blocks for effective leadership. Are there times when honest feedback is painful? Some days you will prefer to feel like your seven feet tall rather than face up to personal and organizational shortcomings. But, a distorted message never provides a basis for the best path forward. Faulty feedback is not helpful even when it feels good in the moment.

If you are at a carnival this week, have fun. If you want to become an exceptional leader, leave the distorted mirrors behind and build a culture where impeccable communication is the norm. If honesty is missing, there is a reason.

At InitiativeOne, we have a proven track record of transforming leaders and creating organizational cultures where honest feedback is the norm. Visit us today at

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