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Feedback change leaders

At Full Circle Feedback we have been collecting data about the bench strength of Australian leaders for over a decade. The company was founded on the basis of trying to answer a few, key questions:

  1. How do leaders gain the feedback they need to help them be the very best leaders possible?
  2. How do leaders effect and sustain real change?
  3. How do teams and organisations understand what sort of leadership they need and how do they strategically build their leadership capacity?

We still focus on those questions and we are continually improving our processes and consulting practices to assist manager/leaders and their organisations grow their leadership capacity.

There are many qualities that we want our leaders to display but what do we consider the most important of these?

According to the data we have collected over the last ten years from thousands of 360 degree feedback profiles, the strengths that Australians most value in their leaders, as perceived by leaders themselves, their peers, direct reports, managers and stakeholders, in order of importance are:

Strengths

- Results Focus
- Problem Solving
- Strategic Focus
- Decision Making
- Focus on Quality
- Customer Focus
- Teamwork
- Accountability

Our research also explored what people perceive to be the greatest challenges to leaders. According to our review, in order of importance, the biggest challenges that leaders face are:

Challenges

- Developing People
- Conflict Resolution
- Innovation and Change management
- Managing Performance
- Developing Trust
- Celebrating Success
- Influencing and Motivating People
- Developing Self

It is not surprising to see the classic task/people split in the results. People are promoted and rewarded for tangible, often short term results. A good dose of personal ambition seems to help as well!

So how can 360 degree feedback help leaders improve?

As managers and leaders we are all works in progress. One of the great benefits of 360 degree feedback is that we catch people when they are on their journey, help them focus on their strengths and ask them to honestly examine how they can be the type of leader that everyone wants on their team.

360 degree feedback allows leaders to gain honest feedback from their peers, direct reports, managers and stakeholders. Gaining such an holistic picture of their performance as a leader can help leaders become the very best they can be. It also allows teams and organisations to strategically build their leadership capacity.

So what areas does 360 degree feedback address?

The key challenges that we focus on with participants in the 360 process have repeated themes:

1. The tactical/strategic tension

Today's workplaces have a frenetic pace and we see many people caught in the ‘day-to- day' trap. We ask leaders to consider their roles as both a manager (involved in immediate situations) and as a leader (involved in more future-oriented activities). People need both management and leadership skills but as they become more senior, we often find they lack strategic thinking and influencing skills. 360 degree feedback can help leaders address these shortfalls.

2. People really matter

A high degree of emotional and social intelligence is critical for management and leadership success. The ability to demonstrate that leaders value and care for their people, even when under pressure, is often sadly lacking in many of the stories we have heard from our 360 degree feedback participants. Managers who are promoted for their technical skills and their ability to complete tasks can often struggle in this area.

3. Balance

Achieving work-life balance is a huge issue in today's 24/7 world. We often talk to managers and leaders about using the 80/20 principle (i.e. 80% of what I do is likely to be ineffective!) and help them to manage their energy and time better. Many of our clients have faced severe resources cutbacks, which can put extreme pressure on them, especially when you consider the escalating demands of the Information Age and consumer expectations.

4. Stepping into the leadership vacuum

If I had a dollar for every senior manager who admitted to feeling like a bit of a fraud or an accidental success I would have made a mint! We work with people to explore what is blocking their real success and help them step into the leadership space.

As managers and leaders we are all works in progress. When we debrief a 360 report we catch people where they are in their journey, help them focus on their strengths and ask them to dig deeper, even just for an hour, to honestly examine how they can be the leader that everyone wants on their team. It's great fun!

Everybody needs honest, constructive feedback to help them be the best they can be. After ten years of conducting 360 degree feedback projects, we believe it is one of the most effective ways to gain honest feedback and help leaders build on their strengths.

About the Author: William Lang

William Lang
Bill Lang has over 25 years professional experience working as an organisation strategy and development consultant and C-suite Executive Coach. Early in his career he worked with KPMG, McKinsey &Co., Bain & Company and AXA as an Executive. His clients operate in over 50 countries and on all continents. He is former member of the Melbourne University Commerce Faculty and holds a MBA(Harvard) and B.Comm/LLB (Hons). He is the author and creator of the Scores on the Board skill development and improvement system.

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