360 Assessments: Leadership Development


I love getting feedback…. especially if it’s positive and complimentary. When it’s negative or constructive, it can sometimes be hard to take. I’ve always admired people who can take feedback really well. It’s a skill. Often, my first reaction is to get defensive, which is a totally normal, emotional response. But in reality, constructive feedback is meant to make you better, to help you learn and grow. The caveat being, you have to be open to it and see the value in what you are being told. After that, what you do with the information is really up to you.

Often, leaders in organizations have a hard time getting good, honest feedback about their performance. Some don’t want it, but those that do, often don’t ask for it. And the higher up the ladder they go, the harder it is to get genuine feedback. According to Peter Drucker, author and management guru, the only way to discover your strengths, is through feedback analysis.

When working with leaders and emerging leaders in organizations, a feedback tool we find very effective is the 360 Performance Assessment. The point of this tool is to help individuals and organizations measure their leadership competencies and act on their findings. It offers an opportunity to give leaders accurate and helpful feedback in a constructive and confidential manner.

Typically, the leader undergoing the assessment selects 10 – 12 people to participate in a confidential survey. Ideally, these are people from all around them in the organizational hierarchy, such as supervisors, peers, direct reports and/or customers. They are people who know the leader’s work and leadership style well.

The participants answer questions relating to the leader’s performance and evaluate other important leadership competencies. The more thoughtful and honest the feedback, the better the results. The leader is also asked to conduct a self-assessment, which is then measured against the assessments provided by the other stakeholders.

One of the most important benefits leaders experience during this process, is an increase in self-awareness. Not only are they gaining insight into their behaviour but also, how others perceive them in the organization. When comparing this to how they perceive themselves, the results can be very eye opening for some.

By using a wide range of perspectives, 360-degree feedback allows leaders to gain a more thorough understanding of their impact on people they interact with every day. They also have the ability to uncover blind spots in their behaviour. These are behaviours they might be exhibiting, but never noticed themselves. Uncovering blind spots is important for personal growth and continuous improvement because it allows an individual to focus on development needs specific to those overlooked behaviours.

The largest benefit of a 360 is the assessment’s ability to identify a leader’s strengths, as well as areas of improvement. This information is crucial in creating a tailored development plan that not only builds on current strengths, but also allows the leader to develop new competencies in a more targeted way.

360 Assessments have also been known to build team trust, better working relationships, as well as increase communication and team effectiveness.

Leaders are critical to an organization’s growth, therefore it is important to cultivate leadership capacity. Feedback is essential to the learning process. A 360 Performance Assessment creates a safe environment to receive feedback in a fair, supportive, and balanced manner. It’s a powerful tool to communicate strengths and areas of improvement for developmental purposes.

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