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The Importance of 360 Assessments

Last Updated: Jun 8, 2022 | Leadership

360 Assessment FeedbackQuick: you have something on the back of your head – look at it!  No really… it’s essential… what can you do to see the back of your own head right now?!

If you’re not already in front of a mirror, you’re thinking about one, right?

Once you get to the mirror, you could take a look, determine if the thing I’m referring to was something you intended or not (your new hair pin or tattoo – or a bug or paper clip) and then do what’s appropriate.

This is the same with 360 assessment tools.

As leaders, we are all walking around with aspects of our own leadership we can’t see.  Either habits that we’ve done for so long we don’t notice them anymore (have you ever driven to work and not remembered doing it?) or just parts we don’t see from our perspective, like our level of effectiveness in leading meetings, for example.  Those things are like the back of our head: they are a part of us we carry them around everywhere we go, but we can’t see them very well.

This is where the 360 assessment is essential.  It’s a mirror.  Through the 360, we can see what others see, from their perspective.  Getting their take on our leadership allows us to tweak things accordingly to line up with what we intend.

“Perception is reality”

The truth is, how you think you are as a leaders doesn’t matter.  Your opinion of your own performance doesn’t count.  As leaders, our effectiveness is measured by our results.  Those results live in the opinions and perceptions of others.  If I think I’m a very inclusive and fair leader, but my direct reports think I’m self-centered and unfair.  Which is “true?”  Well, there’s a philosophical argument to be had there of course, but in terms of what results I get, my directs are right, since they will act according to their belief that I am self-centered and unfair.  The results I produce as leader will be those of someone who is self-centered and unfair.

So what if I do learn this about myself through the use of a 360 assessment process?  If I learn that I am coming across completely the opposite of my intention (namely, to be inclusive and fair), I can do something about it where previously I was blind and unable to alter the behaviors that lead to that perspective.

I like to think of it as honing a jump shot: if my goal is to score a basket, and I’ve practiced a given jump shot to perfection on my home hoop, but then I get to my friend’s house and my jump shot isn’t making the basket.  What do I do?  Do I keep at my practiced version despite the fact that it’s not scoring points?  No, of course I alter the jump shot to be effective on this slightly higher basket.  I’m more interested in scoring (getting the result) than I am in doing it my habitual way (“being right.”)

This is the power of the 360: it provides leaders the ability to hone their skills.

Of course, there is lots of information you get when you do a 360, whether it’s quantitative or qualitative,  so you may not find it all useful. You can pick and choose what you work on.

How to make the 360 assessment most valuable:

  1. Have to tool/process debriefed with you by an expert: there are nuances and even more information than on the surface that you’ll find if you talk it through with an expert.
  2. Have a plan for integrating the feedback: the awareness means nothing without follow through!
  3. Get a coach to support you in the process: they can be the most valuable mirror of all ongoingly, even after the 360 is long since complete!

For more on The Leadership Circle™ Profile 360 Assessment tool, or our Stakeholder Interview 360 Process, contact us for a complimentary consult.

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