When Leaders Need 360 Degree Feedback

When Leaders Need 360 Degree Feedback
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How Do You Know When Leaders Need 360 Degree Feedback?
In addition to leadership simulation assessments for high stakes roles, 360 degree feedback has become a familiar tool for organizations looking to build better leaders. 360 feedback provides leaders with anonymous, confidential feedback from the people who work above, with, and below them.  

This approach, often combined with action learning leadership development, gives leaders, who are often insulated from honest feedback, a wonderful opportunity to learn how their superiors, their peers, and their direct reports truly perceive them. Done right, 360 feedback should help leaders to identify and close both performance and behavior gaps in order to improve their ability to lead their team to greater heights by:

  • Learning About Themselves
    Leaders grow in self-awareness. They can compare how they perceive themselves with how others perceive them. They can learn more about their strengths and their weaknesses.  This allows them to more effectively approach situations and make decisions.

  • Gaining New Perspectives
    Leaders are given the opportunity to reflect upon the messages behind the feedback. If there are recurring themes, it becomes difficult to ignore or discredit the feedback. This helps leaders to see and act upon blind spots while playing to their strengths.

  • Hopefully Being More Open to Changing Observed Behavior
    Leaders now have a choice. Is this the way they want to be perceived? If not, they need to decide to change their behavior to increase their influence.

Do 360s Work?
The short answer is yes.  If the questions are sound and the process is well-intentioned, if the results are debriefed with a professional, and if the leader is open to listening and motivated to invest what it takes to become better at their job, 360 feedback can have a profound effect on leadership effectiveness, team trust, and team performance.

When Do Leaders Need 360 Degree Feedback?
Based upon data from thousands of new manager training and leadership development training workshops, here are a few circumstances when leaders most need 360 degree feedback:

  1. Things Are Changing, The Leader Is Not
    When markets, strategies, structures, cultures, processes, and systems change, leaders also need to change.  If you have a leader that is struggling to lead differently, then 360 feedback can be a powerful tool to increase self-awareness and set the stage for a practical individual development plan.

  2. Performance Targets Are Being Missed, and the Leader Needs to Improve
    Improving leadership effectiveness requires behavior change.  When performance is not up to par, 360 feedback can provide invaluable insight into a leader’s performance strengths and weaknesses from their peers, direct reports, colleagues, and superiors.

    This holistic view of a leader’s strengths and opportunities for growth provides a clear picture of the critical leadership skills needed to lift performance.

  3. The Team Is Unhappy or Dysfunctional
    We know from our organizational culture assessment research that there is a direct link between leadership effectiveness and employee engagement.  And employee engagement corelates to better business outcomes.  When teams are unhappy or disengaged, 360 feedback for the leader and the entire team can be the catalyst to make the changes required to build trust, have constructive conflict, and increase accountability.

  4. The Team Is Afraid to Give Direct Feedback
    While direct in-the-moment feedback is a cornerstone of a high performance culture, it can be downright scary to provide negative feedback to some leaders.  And some leaders do not receive negative feedback well.

    Unfortunately, when teams are afraid to give their boss feedback, back-channeling, gossip, and politics at work increase. 360 feedback can create a psychologically safe process for people to be able to say what they need to say.

  5. You Want to Improve Succession Planning and Leadership Development
    Consistent 360 feedback approaches, language, and reporting can help to create common and targeted performance expectations, leadership language, and development plans.

    Making a 360 degree feedback process part of leadership development training programs helps leaders and high potentials to contextualize and compare where they stand in the leadership pipeline.

The Bottom Line
Leaders need 360 feedback when they are open to improve as leaders and to improve the company in the process. The assessment will give them the opportunity to see themselves as others see them and to make desired changes in their behavior. And better leaders at the top create a ripple effect throughout the organization.

To learn more about when leaders need 360 degree feedback, download 8 Reasons Why Leaders Need 360 Feedback

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