The SA Idols music show is amongst the few television programmes I really enjoy watching. Season 13 is underway and we have witnessed so many dreams being shattered at theatre week and so many dreams coming true with the selection of the top 10. I believe if season 13 is top season 12, the standout stars will need to start shining fast.

There is something I have noticed from the contestants in every season that runs like an invisible thread.

During the audition stages when the judges go to various provinces, most of the people wait with mixed anticipation to receive Randall’s feedback. Over the years, Randall has been the one judge, who I can say “judges with an iron fist”. He is not easily impressed no matter how good someone may sound and he gives very honest, sometimes brutally honest feedback. Some people perceive him to be very difficult and harsh in his feedback.

During theatre week and live performances, I’ve noticed that, if the other judge’s praise a contestant’s performance and Randall comes with a negative comment, the contestant leaves the stage a bit down-cast. However, if they receive very positive feedback from all the judges, including Randall, they are overjoyed.

So why does Randall’s feedback matter so much to most of the contestants? I think the answer lies in the wisdom; someone I consider a “Thought Leader”, Paul Scanlon shared. You see, we constantly encouraged in various spheres of our lives to ignore the critics. But Paul shared that, “the reason the things ‘our’ critics say carry so much weight, is because they are forensic with their negatives”. What this means is that, in most instances the critics pay extremely close attention to your “flaws” and when they give feedback it’s not “wishy washy” because their aim is to make sure that feedback stings; makes you think and perhaps makes you change your behaviour.

Paul’s power line was that, “If we intend on growing people sustainably, the positive feedback we give cannot be “wishy washy”, but it also has to be forensic”. Perhaps the reason why people take Randall’s comments so seriously is because intrinsically they know that he thoroughly thinks things through before saying them. And over the years I have come to appreciate Randall’s feedback even more because in most instances when he says someone will not make it, they don’t and when he says someone will make it, they usually do. What I love most about Randall’s judging technique, is that when he judges people, he doesn’t judge them solely on whether they can sing or not but he wears a big picture hat and to him it’s always about “are you going to win the competition or not”. There are a lot of people who can sing, but singing and winning are two different things. Over and above musical talent, winning encompasses things like discipline, being strategic, being adaptable, being teachable, being consistent and as much as someone may be able to ‘sing’ they may not always possess attributes to win. I believe Randall, looks at whether a person will have longevity in the music industry; an industry that gives so much and takes away much.

The lesson I am learning in all this is that, if we intend on raising great leaders and impacting people positively – we need to give people feedback that’s not short sighted but feedback informed by foresight. Our positive feedback can’t only be applicable for the here and now, but we should be forensic and sometimes the feedback may sound tough at the time but I think in time, if your motive for providing feedback is pure – than that should be underscored as a forensic positive.