You may think you are a great leader – or at least a pretty good one – and that confidence is a terrific step towards your success. Equally important is how those around you perceive and experience your leadership.
And that’s where a 360 feedback process can come in handy.
360 feedback provides invaluable data as to how those above you, below you, and at your peer level perceive your leadership performance based on a set of pre-chosen factors. It allows you to proactively pursue growth and development, tells those around you that you are committed to a learning mindset, and are open to hearing what they have to say. All of these are crucial factors for your growth as a leader.
So why is this tool used so sporadically?
Some common reasons I’ve heard from clients are: I don’t think I’ll get anything valuable back, I’m afraid of what people will say about me and, I don’t have time for this and neither do any of the people I would ask.
So how can you leverage the benefits of the 360 feedback process without falling prey to the downfalls? Here are some tips.
» Choose feedback providers from each sphere around you (above you, below you, and at your peer level) so you get a true 360 view of your effectiveness as a leader. Try to mix it up as much as possible. For the broadest perspective of your actual performance and how others perceive you, include those who know you well and those who do not know you well.
» Provide your raters with guidance as to why you are initiating the 360-process and what you’d like from them. For example, a brief introductory email that goes something like this: “I am participating in a 360 feedback process because I would like to proactively develop my leadership skills. I value your feedback and would appreciate any specific comments and insights you have for me as a leader.” Most people will take the time to give you feedback if they know you are taking it seriously. They will also appreciate any guidance you provide as to why you are pursuing a 360 feedback.
» If you are afraid of what you might see in your 360 feedback, think of it this way: those around you are already experiencing your leadership style – it is not a secret! It is to your benefit to know as early as possible if you have limiting behaviors that will prevent you from reaching your long-term goals. Taking a more proactive approach sends a clear message that you own your growth and development.
» When you get your report, take a deep breath before your read it. You may be surprised by something you see. You may see comments you have heard many times before. And you may see some comments that are an outlet for someone else’s anger. Take the feedback you feel you can act on and look for broad trends. There will always be aberrations. It’s part of your evolution as a leader to be able to take the good with the bad – and remember that the important thing is what you do with it.
» Be sure you list out your noted strengths and really take them in. Give yourself a pat on the back. Studies show it’s to your best advantage to hone strengths and really understand how to leverage them, while neutralizing weaknesses.
» Leverage those with whom you have a trusting relationship by sharing some or all of your feedback with them. Get their perspectives and use the color commentary to fill in any gaps you may have in understanding your report.
» Work up a simple action plan – just one or two things to work on. Enlist those around you for support by telling them about the behaviors you are trying to change and ask for feedback along the way.
» Consider working with an executive coach. Sometimes a confidential thought partner can help you move forward, especially at pivotal stages in your career.
Remember, successful leaders see feedback as a gift. They actively pursue it and they spend time cultivating their leadership style. Be one of those leaders.
Cheers to your leadership success!
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