Using 360 Feedback to Develop Your Leadership Potential

By Chris Wright, Ph.D.

“In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future.”—Eric Hoffe

People who become executives begin their careers as functional or technical specialists. A specialty is the basis on which to grow new, diverse expertise and ultimately either choose to stay on the specialist ladder or move to management.

As a person moves from first time manager, to managing others, to managing groups, to managing an organization; work continuously broadens, organizational dynamics and politics become increasingly complex and require an evolving set of priorities. 

A leader’s awareness and their speed of adaptation in a new role influence the organizational culture, employee engagement, client loyalty and financial results. The keys to a leader’s success? Knowing yourself; assessing preparedness and requirements of work, being clear about internal and external measures of success, being honest with oneself about personal readiness, ways to maintain resilience and creating trusted connections with others.

Mentors and role models all serve to give feedback, provide perspective and increase awareness. They can be our trusted advisors and the ones who we can rely on to tell us the truth. They can become the accelerator of a leader’s success.

The tendency towards self-delusion increases the higher a leader/manager ascends the organizational hierarchy. The higher one climbs, the more placating peers and subordinates become, resulting in acute insulation and putting leaders in a type of vacuum away from constructive feedback. What’s the culprit? Isolationism, a relative lack of honest, critical, and corrective feedback, all part of a phenomenon that conventional training and development practices, in style and substance, cannot adequately address.

That’s where Leadership Assessment and 360 feedback can play a proactive role to provide information for self insight. We all have blind spots or areas where personal growth once areas, when identified, can improve our effectiveness.

The following graphic illustrates how to use feedback and create a plan for growth.

• Step one is to have information through a 360 assessment or Leadership Assessment

• Step two is having someone who can review your assessment data with you and discuss your strengths and areas for development, such as a mentor

• Step three is to create a plan for growth and change

• Step four is ongoing practice to master new behaviors

• Step five is meeting with your mentor to discuss success or times when you weren’t so successful and determine improvement tactics


 This diagram illustrates the following points:

• We all learn from examining how similar our self perception is to our public perception

• The closer the self and public perception are aligned, the more authentic we are “coming across” and the more comfortable we are in our own skin

• Having a mentor who can give us feedback about a self assessment or a 360 broadens our perspective and can help us reframe or coach us on areas which are more difficult ones to change

• Practice is key. Growth as a leader requires practice, feedback and acknowledgment that practice is not an event. Rather it’s ongoing and takes time to fully master behavior change.

Dr. Wright is the founder, President and CEO of Reliant (www.reliantlive.com). He led the development of Reliant’s end-to-end Talent Management solutions and assessments. Over 1000 companies globally utilize one of Reliant’s talent management solutions.


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