How Effective Coaching & Feedback Can Reinforce a Growth Mindset

Nov 2023

Over the course of the 12-week KWSM Leadership Program, our CEO, Katie Wagner, guided four like-minded individuals through leadership topics ranging from Ownership and Accountability to Decision Making. Although every topic covered has been a valuable educational resource, Coaching and Feedback is the one I resonated with the most.

As a web designer at KWSM for the past two years, I tend to give/get a lot of feedback from our clients and peers. Being an effective leader means knowing how to coach others and how to receive/apply feedback in order to grow.

In this blog, we will dissect how properly applying coaching and feedback can guide you into continuously having a growth mindset.

Establishing Your Coaching Technique

There is always more than one way to reach your goal. To be an effective leader, you must be able to self-identify the type of coach you are. Doing so will help you determine which style is most appropriate for the success of you and your team.

Coaches can be divided into four categories.

  1. Teachers – Able to coach based on their own acquired knowledge and experiences. They provide feedback that is advice-oriented and personally directs the development of others.
  1. Always-on Leaders – Regularly provide coaching and are dedicated to pursuing the development of others while giving feedback across a range of skills. They are committed to leveling up the skills of others and encouraging them to learn.
  2. Connectors – Only give feedback that is specific to their own areas of expertise. If they do not have knowledge of a specific area, they will connect people with someone else, whether internal or external, who can help them accomplish their task. They are aware that some things are effectively taught by someone other than themselves.
  3. Cheerleaders – Provide positive feedback but rely on others to take charge of their own growth and development. They are solely there to be supportive but are not as motivated to teach new skills. 

We can see that all of these techniques provide something useful when coaching others, but are some more effective? The most common coaches are Cheerleaders, which account for 29% of leaders. The least common are Teachers, which account for 22%. But when looking at the success of performance from coaching, Connectors resulted in better performance, while Always-on Leaders produced the worst performance in those they were coaching.

Be Open to Receiving Feedback

Anyone who has ever received feedback has experienced the heart-pounding feeling of not knowing whether it will be positive or negative.

When the feedback is more of a critique, we (biologically) begin to view it as a threat. Our brains make us think we are always in the right, even when we know that is not the case. Because of this, we tend to get defensive and change the information to fit our narrative, rather than self-reflecting and changing ourselves.

The toughest part of receiving feedback is that it can trigger an emotional response that can prevent us from actually comprehending the feedback. Our reaction to feedback involves three elements:

  • Our baseline: our default emotional state
  • Our swing: how far off from the baseline we move
  • Our recovery: how long it takes us to get back to our baseline

There are 3 types of feedback triggers that can knock us off our baseline:

  • Truth: We believe that the feedback given does not pertain to us or may not be correct
  • Relationship: We believe that the person giving the feedback does not have the proper knowledge, experience, or position to give the feedback
  • Identity: We tend to feel personally threatened

Some helpful tips to mitigate these feedback triggers:

  1. Look past your initial reaction
  2. Ask questions about how you can improve
  3. Thank them for their feedback
  4. Determine whether it is useful criticism or useless criticism; some people will always criticize
  5. Ask for time to address their concerns

Keep in mind that when offering someone constructive criticism, there is no need to balance the criticism with positive feedback. Doing so can come across as non-authentic and can be counterproductive to having them understand the actual feedback you are providing.

To get an idea of how feedback can affect us all differently, I asked Junior Copywriter Epiphany Hunter to give me insight into how she deals with feedback in her role.

“My first emotion when receiving feedback is to be angry, because for me it does feel like a slight on my competence, and no one wants to be made to feel like they’re stupid or less-than. What helps me push forward is remembering that it’s leadership’s job to cover all my bases so nothing gets dropped.”

– Epiphany Hunter, Junior Copywriter, KWSM

Reinforcing a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is the belief that our intelligence and skillset can be developed. It leads to a desire to learn and a tendency to:

  • Embrace challenges
  • Persist in the face of setbacks
  • See effort as the path to mastery
  • Learn from criticism
  • Find lessons and inspiration in the success of others

When we are provided with the right coaching and feedback, and learn to accept and use it to improve, it can inspire us to grow and feel more confident in ourselves. As a result, we can reach higher levels of achievement.

Join A Team of Growth Minded Creatives

If you are looking to join a team of individuals who build each other up and work together to provide coaching and feedback to nurture your continued growth, view our open positions at KWSM.

Fill out the form below to start your conversation with KWSM.

Core Values at KWSM a digital marketing agency