A preponderance of highly confident and sometimes arrogant individuals in financial services can inhibit the scope for companies to cope with change, according to one of Australia’s foremost leadership advisors.

Kamal Sarma, managing director of Rezilium, believes that the unprecedented pace of change in business has created a greater need for leaders and organisations to have effective feedback loops.

Sarma, who is speaking on this topic at the FEAL annual conference in Melbourne on August 6, says these processes need to be created owing to the natural inhibition of employees to give feedback; he cites research which shows 91 per cent of people struggle to give feedback to leaders, while 87 per cent struggle to give feedback to their peers.

In financial services firms a preponderance of high IQ individuals who are not used to receiving critical feedback can make this task harder.

“The financial services is an industy that attracts very bright people who have to be confident because they are managing other people’s money. There can a line to play between confidence and arrogance,” he said. “You need to create people who have enough humility to take on feedback and to ask for feedback.”

However, Sarma takes issue with commonly expressed opinion that some people ‘just cannot take feedback’. “It’s not the other person’s issue, it’s really about people struggling to give feedback that is digestible,” he said. “Or giving feedback when they do not have permission – if you do not have permission it is going to fall flat, so why bother.”

The answer believes Sarma is for organisations to create a culture where feedback is encouraged and acknowledged, particularly the ability to report on what people believe to be unsuccessful changes or behaviour.

“For teams to be resilient to change you need to create a climate and culture of feedback,” said Sarma. “If you are feeling disconnected you cannot give feedback openly and freely.”


To register for FEAL’s 2015 annual conference click here.

Join the discussion