360°: “Is this really about me?”

A few years of providing 360° Leadership Feedback to our clients, we have discovered that you can get all sorts of reactions, from extreme denial on the one hand to authenticity and discovery on the other. The one thing that can make the difference is the quality of the feedback, and this depends on the relevance of the questionnaire and the competence of the coach. Call it dialogue, conversation, whatever – it is key. The coach sitting there must be sensitive to unspoken words and be prepared for any reaction.

The language of resistance

“This is not me!” says the manager. “So who is it?” says the coach. “Well, anyway, it’s just a snapshot, and I don’t have to take lessons from people who are no better than I am. This is just the way I am and I’m not planning to change anyway. I’ll get back at them soon enough!”
Of course this dialogue doesn’t take place in real life, at least not with us. But how can we be sure it is not underlying some of our feedback sessions? Denial and cynicism at work. How can we ensure we avoid that?

Open dialogue

When a manager accepts feedback with authenticity, a 360° process is a powerful opening to dialogue between peers, with one’s boss and with team members. Simple quantitative data is then transformed into deeper understanding, more effective communications and targeted actions for improvement. We are not often given the opportunity for this kind of open dialogue on such personal issues and many do realize how precious an opportunity it is.

Build convergence

The death blow to a good 360° Feedback process is to use it as part of an evaluation process. 360° Feedback should be part of a normal development process, not a threat. It is a way for managers and leaders to position themselves against their organization’s leadership expectations and thereby build consistency across a diverse, international group. Let’s face it, we cannot expect absolute alignment (even if some executives dream about it), but an organization can move towards increasing convergence, particularly when it comes to leadership behaviors.

Strengthen teams

The 360° process benefits the individual. But in many cases, when an entire team goes through the exercise, it is worth opening up a discussion about some of the shared strengths on which the team can build and about some of the shared weaknesses that can be addressed collectively as well as individually. Thus both individual team members and the team as a whole grow as a result of the process.

Shape the company culture through leadership

A 360° process can therefore be organized to go beyond individual benefit. It is a way to clarify, communicate and strengthen a consistent set of leadership behaviors around organizational challenges such as change management, cooperation and Culture Bridging Skills©. And by so doing it reinforces the corporate culture and the potential for internal cooperation.
When a 360° Feedback process is positioned in this way, the acceptance rate is significantly higher and participants are more ready to take results on board. The benefits of the process are in direct proportion to the integrity of the purpose. People then not only build on the feedback for their own development but take advantage of it to reinforce the global corporate culture and their interactions with the various bodies of colleagues who took time to answer the questionnaire.

A word of warning

Beware of off-the-shelf Leadership Skills questionnaires like those you can find on the Web. My conviction is that these ersatz tools, with predefined automatic feedback – sometimes haphazardly translated by an illiterate computer located in cyberspace – are no more credible than newspaper horoscopes. Not only do they standardize visions of leadership; they also do not do justice and reduce the credibility to the potential of this tool.




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2 Responses to “360°: “Is this really about me?””



  1. 360°: “Is this really about me?” | Icm Associates http://dlvr.it/5HZL5

  2. Interesting article on conditions to achieve results with a 360° development program. http://lnkd.in/FPq-vN