Enjoy your working life
linkedin wentworthpeople
facebook wentworthpeople

Feedback & Self Reflection Creates the Opportunity to Change for The Better

Reading the Sydney Morning Herald last weekend there was a great interview and profile of Emma Dunch, the CEO of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. I’d think being CEO of any orchestra is a leadership challenge: all those highly skilled professionals playing together; virtuoso conductors and soloists.

Her journey from Oklahoma, through Hornsby Girls High in Sydney, the SSO as a publicist to running a US public broadcaster, running her own performing arts consultancy and now back to the SSO is interesting, with many lessons for aspiring leaders.

But it is the anecdote of her being given feedback when she joined the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra that stuck out. She was told “She was too direct. Too Australian. That she needed more polish and finesse.” Wow, that’s some tough feedback.

How many of us would have bristled at that feedback and considered it an unjustified attack? Perhaps the thought of toning down and being less Australian would have struck at the heart of our authenticity. What be more American? Never!

Emma Dunch’s response was different. She saw the truth in what she was being told (perhaps not everything but enough of it), related to the environment she was working in and saw the necessity of changing her behaviour. Interestingly she now proudly says that she can “turn it on like a tap”. That she has been “drilled in self-reflection”, especially when things go wrong.

Hopefully we are all able, some of the time to turn our behaviour on or off. Do you use the same language in front of your parents that you do in the bar with your friends? Probably not and good thing too. Does that make you any less authentic? No, just able to adapt.

There are many articles on the importance of grabbing feedback, this story just brings it alive and demonstrates how it enables someone to succeed in their career. Think about that the next time you get feedback. The reflection gives you the opportunity to improve and get better. You’re not selling your soul. Just metaphorically toning down the language for your Mum.

Richard Wentworth Ping is CEO and owner of Wentworth People. With offices in Singapore and Australia and a network of consultants across Asia, they help clients handle change, build leaders and shape culture. Contact him on richard.wping@wentworthpeople.com.au or +61 425 262580 or visit the website www.wentworthpeople.com