Not too long ago, the corporate world woke up to mindfulness, spirituality, and meditation. Organisations rushed to adopt knowledge and wisdom from philosophical theories and indigenous scriptures. Soon, businesses realised that just technically intelligent leaders would not be able to carry the mantle forward. The modern day environment needs leaders who demonstrate a strong ability to reflect, and possess understanding of their own self and its impact on others. Thus, ‘Nosce Te Ipsum’ or ‘Know Thyself’ became the leadership mantra.
To help leaders abide by this mantra, a lot of ‘top companies for leaders’ are providing opportunities to their leaders to look at themselves through the eyes of others, using the 360° survey. At Aon, we believe in the power of 360° feedback as it provides a panoramic view of leadership capabilities through inputs from multiple stakeholders.
Historically, the 360° technique has been critiqued due to its excessive focus on the gaps between what the leaders think their strengths are vis-à-vis the view of other stakeholders. However, these variances are a reflection of different ‘realities’ held by various rater groups about an individual. This discrepancy acts as the starting point for meaningful feedback and coaching discussions with leaders, while helping to design customised development journeys by uncovering their blind spots and revealing their hidden strengths.
Constructive and authentic feedback is crucial to instil self-awareness and bridge the perception gap. Yet, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. It is not uncommon to encounter leaders who are unaware of their derailer behaviours. While many are dismayed with negative feedback; in some leaders, it generates resentment especially when a particular development area is echoed at many levels or there is high perception gap.
Since behavioural change doesn’t come easily, we recommend a psychometric instrument, alongside a 360° assessment that explores the leader’s preferences, attitudes, and characteristics. When individuals understand or become aware of their preferences, they are better able to juxtapose it with their development areas to bring about a behavioural change. Before organisations plunge into using 360° though, they must ensure the sanctity of the process, which includes commensurate checks for preparedness of a leader, number of raters, rater categories, and anonymous handling of results. A positive feedback environment is also critical to achieve the desired outcome from the process.
This article first appeared in The Economic Times, India, on 26 March 2018.
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