Have you ever taken a 360-degree assessment? If so, do you remember your trepidation the first time you did?
I do. Six years ago, I was invited to attend a short workshop based on The Leadership Challenge that included the Leadership Practices Inventory, a 360-degree assessment. After filling out the online assessment for myself, indicating how often I thought I was practicing 30 leadership behaviors, I had to pick observers to fill out the assessment for me. Observer categories managers, co-workers, direct reports and “others” such as those I may interact within community service organizations, athletic groups, etc.
I had to ponder my observers who to add as observers to give me their take on my leadership.
- I needed to add my manager, but I hadn’t worked for him for very long. So, I added my previous manager, as well.
- Similarly, I had new coworkers (less than a year) so I included previous coworkers, as well.
- I also included my new direct reports as well as my previous direct reports, going back to two previous work groups.
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I did my best to add not only people who I felt were my friends at work but also those who weren’t as close to me. That in itself made me a bit nervous but I knew I needed their feedback, as well. I alerted all of my observers that they would receive an invitation to assess my leadership behaviors and let them know that I was interested in their real evaluation. Some of them looked at me skeptically. Others thought it was a request for some positive feedback (it wasn’t).
By the end, I felt like I had invited a representative group to complete my Leadership Practices Inventory and that made my data that much richer when I attended the workshop. My advice based on that experience:
- Don’t shy away from the 360-degree assessment. You may have strengths as well as weaknesses that you are unaware of and therefore can’t address or leverage.
- Think carefully about whom to invite to assess your leadership behaviors and, as much as possible, pick those who have some length of experience and frequency of interactions with you as a leader. Don’t just pick your friends, either.
- Alert your observers before they receive the email invitation to take the Leadership Practices Inventory so they understand your desire for sincere feedback.
In the end, you’ll get the gift of complete feedback—better than a mirror on your leadership behaviors because even with a mirror you can’t see yourself from all angles at once!