Vertical Development: Feedback at The Achiever Stage

Mar 6, 2024. By Lori Brewer Collins

Spiral Staircase Photo by Rémy Penet on Unsplash

As leaders gain the experience of building and moving teams toward greater and greater heights, they naturally gain the maturity to move from the Expert stage to that of the Achiever. Leaders with this mindset are primarily focused on results and have learned to access the talents and skills of their wider team, as well as those outside their functional area.

In the Achiever stage, leaders are hyper-focused on the outcome. To do that, they’ve learned the benefits of harnessing the skills and talents of those around them. The lovely thing about this level of maturity is that the expertise of others is no longer the threat that it was in the Expert stage. This leader readily acknowledges the talents of someone else, without it having a diminishing effect on themselves. They recognize that there’s no expectation that they’ll continue to be the “go to” person for all things and they look for ways to invite and leverage what other people bring to the table. They have moved from knower energy to learner energy and use inquiry to elicit a wide variety of input and perspectives from those around them.

It’s not until the Achiever stage of development that people experience a genuine appreciation for other people’s points of view. Leaders at this stage convey respect and openness to ideas other than their own, whether they agree with the other person or not. They’re able to hold paradox – the ability to entertain two contradictory perspectives at once, and see the truth in both. This infuses team conversations with a richness and dimensionality that also creates an environment primed for newness and innovation.

When it comes to feedback, Achievers no longer see constructive comments as a diminishment to their sense of self. They may not like what they hear, but they ensure they create a space where a multitude of views can be heard and considered. They do this with good reason: they’ve learned that potential solutions reside in those ideas. This, in turn, leads to superior results – the magic words for Achievers.

It was probably an Achiever who first coined the phrase, “Feedback is a gift.” While irksome to many, they know that the underlying truth of well-delivered, constructive feedback will ultimately help them reduce their blind spots and increase their self-awareness. They tend to take in the feedback, and then think through how they can pro-actively apply what’s needed to improve their personal and professional growth.

And like most of us, they respond very positively when recognized for their accomplishments!

That said, the downside for this stage is overdoing. Their striving shows up with long work hours and the stress of never having enough time. One of their developmental tasks is to create more balance in their personal and professional lives. To do that, they are also in a position to recognize the additional knowledge and resources available to them outside their primary area of focus. They may begin asking themselves what is to be found from other leaders, from other organizations, companies, industries, and even other areas of professional discipline.

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