Coaching Toward the Future Using Feedforward

One of my most perspective-busting workshops is about being a coach vs. being a leader. I provide this workshop to all my leadership teams and the objectives are straight-forward: understand the difference between leading and coaching; sharpen your leadership and coaching skills; and create an environment for accountability.

Wondering what the difference is between the two?

Leading is about articulating a vision, providing a strong sense of purpose, and creating a powerful culture.

Coaching focuses on keeping communication open, creating a shared accountability, identifying potential, and providing feedforward.

You read that correctly – I love teaching people how to “feedforward.” I am not sure where I heard or read about this term; however, I immediately embraced this concept.

Feedback, which is a concept with which we all are familiar, tends to focus on what has already taken place. Feedback often leads people to shut down, become defensive, or simply initiate an argument.

Helping people envision a positive future is one of the pillars of feedforward. Feedforward helps people focus on this positive future rather than a failed past.

This doesn’t mean we have to accept an error or missed opportunity from an employee. For example, say an employee botched a presentation. Our first inclination may be to point out everything the person did wrong. However, this could lead them to shut down.

What if instead we discuss the presentation in terms of improvements for a future presentation? We can cover all the same material of feedback; however, we can help the employee focus on a positive future.

In my experience, people tend to listen more attentively to feedforward than feedback. Why? Because we helped the employee debrief their work, and provided an opportunity to identify where they can improve rather than simply listing all the places where they failed.

To embrace the coaching mindset, I encourage you to try feedforward the next time one of your direct reports misses the mark. Doing so will help you identify the person’s potential for growth, and allow you to offer practical guidance to position them towards their future successes.

Interested in my leadership and coaching workshop, or any of my other offerings? Fill out the consult form below. I’ll be in contact to set up a time for us to talk. I can’t wait to meet you!