leader unaware of feedback

In our executive coaching and Extraordinary Leader workshops, we see a wide variety of responses to leaders receiving their 360 assessment feedback. We generally see one of these four responses:

Prisoners of Score

These participants are most often in workshops where the leader was forced to participate. They want to serve the minimum time in the session and put little to no weight on their bad ratings. And prisoners always get bad ratings. Their allergic response to feedback is defensiveness that ranges from apathy or — at the other extreme — hostility toward the ratings and the 360 process. Some tune out while others respond with versions of “this is just perception; it’s not reality.”

Me-Deep in Fooling Themselves

Often these participants haven’t had 360 feedback before and discourage contrary views on their leadership effectiveness. Their self-ratings usually show higher scores than everyone else. Often their feedback points to fatal flaws that are seriously undermining their leadership effectiveness. This realization creates the most painful visits from SARAA when the perception of their raters creates the reality of their leadership effectiveness.

Feeding on Feedback

These are leaders on the grow. He or she knows that others’ perception of their behaviors defines the reality of their leadership impact. They understand the only way to change that perception is to change their own behavior. These leaders have high coachability and will build strong personal development plans leveraging their feedback and strengths.

Don’t Know Their Own Strength

These leaders are often rated at the 75th percentile or above. If they haven’t had a 360 assessment before, he or she may be pleasantly surprised by how positively others see their leadership effectiveness. Often a few towering strengths create a halo effect that elevates overall perceptions of this leader’s effectiveness. Those positive perceptions correlate to higher levels of engagement, teamwork, safety, quality, service, etc. The danger is underplaying their strengths. Leveraging his or her strengths will elevate their leadership even higher.

A SARAA Smack Down

Most participants get a visit from SARAA  in some part of their 360 assessment report — even if their overall rating is quite high. We use this acronym to discuss typical emotional responses to feedback:   Shock, Anger, Resentment, and…hopefully — Acceptance and Action. The first three steps are especially true if feedback shows there may be a “fatal flaw” in the leader’s effectiveness. Zenger Folkman has found leaders getting the most benefit from their 360 feedback assessments passes through three stages; Acceptance –> Prioritization –> Making Change Happen.

Zenger Folkman’s 360 research shows that leaders rated lowest in looking for opportunities to get feedback are in the bottom 20% of leaders. Leaders rated the highest in looking for opportunities to get feedback are in the top 20% of leaders. What’s your approach to feedback?