by Michael Holland    

Michael Phelps won the 200 meter butterfly in the 2008 Olympics by seven-tenths of a second – and set a world record – while swimming blind the last 100 meters as his goggles filled with water.  He had practiced his race so many times in his mind seeing every action, every movement, every breath while playing the mental video of the race every day, that he didn’t miss a stroke when his water filled goggles blinded him.  The practice in the pool and in his mind allowed him to see the final race before he swam it.

A leader’s role in delivering feedback is not about the employee’s perception of self as much as it is about the leader’s wisdom as he looks upon the behaviors exhibited by the employee and opportunities for growth.  Sharing that wisdom creates the opportunity for the employee to truly grow.  It is critically important that a leader can understand the wisdom he can share AND more importantly, be ready and able to communicate that wisdom in perfect fashion.  Great leaders are effective, inspirational, and impactful because they know how best to deliver the feedback no matter how deep their wisdom may be.

Preparing to deliver key messages requires practice and practicing like Michael Phelps can make you better.  Great leaders know that ‘you need to see it before you do it’ meaning that practicing the delivery of feedback messages will create the opportunity to refine and to perfect the delivery.  Practicing the delivery requires you to repeat feedback phrases/sound bites allowing you to adjust the tone and inflection to determine the best way to package the content so that it will be heard.  Seeing in your mind how employees will receive the various forms of messages provides the behavioral repetition that can be called upon when needed.

When its game time and you’re called upon to deliver that critical feedback message with wisdom will you be ready?  Will you have practiced enough to know that your likelihood of success is very high?

Repeat after me:  See it before you do it.