Effective Feedback

Reflective Leadership is Effective Leadership

“Feedback is a function of respect; when you don’t have honest conversations with us about our strengths and our opportunities for growth, we question our contributions and your commitment.” Brene Brown 2018

In our seven years of working with leaders, we’ve learned that an effective leader is one who understands the value of timely, honest feedback. When a leader is committed to feedback, they are also committed to their own professional development and often to those around them.

Reflective leaders know that there is a “kernel of truth” in all feedback and are receptive and reflective when it comes their way. Lindsay Pattison, CEO of Maxus Global sums it up nicely, “[Leaders] need to look at themselves – their [school] structure, who they really are and how they communicate…You have to be confident in your own moral compass and be aware of your own boundaries and limitations.”

Whether you are on the start of your feedback journey or an expert, we suggest seeking out and accepting feedback both informally and formally as we describe below.    

Informal Feedback

This is the spontaneous feedback that comes in general conversation with parents, students and staff. As it comes naturally, without premeditation, this feedback can be very powerful. It’s also the easiest type of feedback to collect as all it takes is approaching every conversation as a potential source of feedback. 

Staff Feedback

Leaders who are engaged with their staff know that collegial conversations will provide feedback on an array of school-related topics. It is like checking the heartbeat of the school. Is morale high or low? What’s the feeling around the new initiative we just introduced at the staff meeting? How is a certain program working? Which staff need/require help? This informal feedback is a great way to start capturing what matters to your teachers and staff. 

Student Feedback 

Leaders can gain a greater understanding of their school by taking time to talk to students about their experiences. Many students are willing to voice their opinions and can make significant contributions to their own learning environments. It is essential that student voice and agency are considered as part of the informal feedback process. Try a Pulse Check survey for a simple and easy way to gather regular feedback in a more structured way. 


Formal Feedback

Formal feedback is an intentional and planned process of giving and receiving feedback across the school setting. Common examples in schools are 1-1 meetings, annual review meetings, staff surveys, performance management processes, 360 degree surveys and coaching.

360 Degree Surveys 

We all need feedback to develop our leadership skills and a 360 Degree Survey can provide you with evidence-based recommendations that will continue to support your evolution as a leader. While a 360 Degree Survey can be an affirming process to undertake, research by the Centre of Creative Leadership has shown that recipients who get unfavorable ratings tend to improve their performance more than others. These leaders found that constructive feedback was a key driver for leadership improvement.


Here at Pivot, we focus on tools for effective formal feedback to drive improvement at every level of a school. We hope that this article reveals how easy it is to start collecting feedback both informally and formally. For more information about our 360 Degree Surveys for Leaders reach out to us at hello@pivotpl.com.