Why Great Leaders Aren’t Afraid To Give Honest Feedback


Life as a recruiter can sometimes be challenging.

Especially when it comes to giving interview feedback.

I must confess, when I first started out ten years ago I’d sometimes used to skim around the subject. Even hold back certain feedback for fear of upsetting others. Rather than being direct and telling them what the interviewer really thought, sometimes would just use the old classic “they really really liked you but….”.

The turning point for me came through a conversation with a mentor of mind. The CEO of one of the largest tech companies in the world, he explained that although sometimes initially difficult, giving honest feedback – even negative – was something that is always appreciated by other people.

Here are some reasons why great leaders aren’t afraid to give honest feedback.

It allows others to improve

However difficult or awkward, it shouldn’t be forgotten that feedback is actually supposed to be useful.

It’s the process of getting an honest assessment of how we performed and what others thought of us.

And only through such a process can we analyse, re-plan and ultimately improve.

By withholding feedback on others – good or bad – we deny them the valuable chance to see where they are and ultimately get better.

Great leaders understand that despite initial reactions, what all of us are ultimately looking to do in life is improve, grow and move forward. They therefore never put personal awkwardness ahead of helping others and aren’t afraid to give honest feedback when necessary.

Allowing those around them to always move forward and grow.

Great leaders help others grow.

It creates respect

Ever known someone who gave you some harsh advice that was difficult to swallow but that ultimately proved invaluable?

Or conversely, ever been around anther type of person who just agreed with everyone all the time without having the courage to speak the truth?

Most of us have.

And despite how we may feel in the short term, whatever the reasons, circumstances or agenda – what most of us appreciate in all of out relationships is that one simple, but difficult to find quality:


You see, we all know that life can be complicated. And tough. And frustrating. And even sometimes heart breaking. As intelligent beings we know that sometimes people won’t be able to help all the time. That they might not agree with us. Or even give us advice that might turn out to be totally wrong!

But we’re prepared to tolerate all of this if whatever they say or do, they have our best intentions at heart.

Great leaders understand that honesty and trust are closely linked. Although often telling the harsh truth can elicit a frustrated reaction from others, eventually – when we calm down – we tend to trust those who are honest with us.

Building co-operation and respect.

Great leaders build respect.

It creates the magical “feedback loop”

Yet perhaps one of the most valuable and unrecognised aspects of giving honest feedback to others is something that is immensely powerful.

Something that all leading businesses spend billions of dollars a year to achieve.

And that is the creation of the magical “feedback loop”.

A feedback loop is where different groups of people – clients, customers or colleagues – are continuously in honest conversation with each other. Where everything is transparent. Where everyone is constantly discussing performance, expectations and even future desires.

In product management, it means clients telling the company exactly what they want their new product to look like. In sales, it means customers working with the company to try and get the deal closed. Within a business it means employees working closely with management to increase engagement and ultimate performance.

Great leaders understand that being brave in giving honest feedback, creates reciprocation from others. It removes superficial norms found in average relationships and creates a two-way honest dialogue only found in those we highly trust.

By being giving honest feedback, we also ensure we receive it.

Great leaders give to receive.


Sitting on the fence is easy.

But only the brave step out of their comfort zone.

Great leaders understand that although it can sometimes mean enduring pain, being honest with others is the only way to help them. It is the only way to growth and satisfaction.

Does your leader give honest feedback?

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