Similarities between leaders and team members encourage openness and trust. When team members learn they share something in common with the leader, their willingness to engage openly increases. Good leaders know this and go out of their way to show how they are similar to those they lead.
They are willing to admit that they get nervous before presentations, struggle with raising their children, and sometimes wing it when they shouldn’t. Suggesting they have made the same mistakes, had the same doubts, and felt the same frustrations in the past as team members puts those who follow at ease and lowers their guard.
This is especially true when leaders share that they have received the same feedback that they are now giving to a team member. When we learn the leader was in the same spot, receiving the same feedback, we respond differently. Suddenly, we don’t feel silly or picked upon. Instead, we sense the leader, who had the same problems in the past, is trying to help us, not just criticize our performance. Leaders who disclose that they once received the same feedback enjoy a different response and bond.
Feedback similarity is a power connector and the best leaders share it purposefully whenever it is true. There is no good reason not to. So, the next time you give someone feedback, ask yourself if you have ever received the same advice. If so, you might consider telling them that straight away. You might find they instantly relax and respond like they have found a kindred spirit. The truth is, they have.