turbocharge leadeship with feedback

One of our most recent popular blogs was on bully bosses and featured a quiz to help determine if your boss is a bully or just a poor leader. A follow-up blog on leading up included five ways to deal with a bad boss.

But what if you’re a bully or poor boss — and don’t know it? You likely don’t mean to be “that boss.” Perhaps you’re a sincere hypocrite? An insincere hypocrite tries to deceive others. A sincere hypocrite deceives him or herself. So how do you know what kind of boss others think you are?

360 assessments can provide that blinking blue dot that pinpoints “you are here” according to your boss, direct reports, peers, and others. The usefulness of 360 assessments depends on the design of the tool and approach as well as how the leader responses to his or her feedback.

There are many ways you can get feedback on your personal, team, or organizational effectiveness without formal surveys. These include external coaches, reverse performance appraisals, facilitated focus groups, meeting reflections, project reviews, external assessments, informal networking, and so on.

In their Harvard Business Review article, , Zenger Folkman offers this sidebar:

An Informal 360

Before you can build on your strengths, you need an objective view of what they are. Ideally, this comes from a formal, confidential 360-degree evaluation. But if that’s not possible, a direct approach can work.

 Try simply asking your team members, colleagues, and boss these simple questions, either in person or in writing.

    • What leadership skills do you think are strengths for me?
    • Is there anything I do that might be considered a fatal flaw — that could derail my career or lead me to fail in my current job if it’s not addressed?
    • What leadership ability, if outstanding, would have the most significant impact on the productivity or effectiveness of the organization?
    • What leadership abilities of mine have the most significant impact on you?

Do your best to exhibit receptiveness and create a feeling of safety (especially for direct reports). Make it clear that you’re seeking self-improvement. Tell your colleagues explicitly that you are open to negative feedback and that you will absorb it professionally and appropriately — and without retribution. Of course, you need to follow through on this promise, or the entire process will fail.

Feedback is the most useful and trustworthy when it’s unfiltered and anonymous. An online tool like Survey Monkey can help. You could modify versions of the informal 360 or simply ask three questions about your leadership. “To be an even more effective leader, what should I: 1. Keep doing? 2. Stop doing? 3. Start doing or do more?”

Feedback, like fire, can burn and destroy or warm and energize. Effective feedback received openly with a sincere desire to improve is a powerful combustion chamber turbo-charging leadership effectiveness.