How 360 degree feedback helps enhance your success as a leader

Posted on 5th April 2023

One of the famous quotes by Leo Tolstoy is “Everyone thinks of changing the world but no one thinks of changing himself”. This quote is a perfect way of understanding why, on the flip side, the most effective leaders stand out, and how they become so effective. These outstanding individuals never assume they are perfect, and are keen to know what they can do to become even more effective. They find out, by seeking feedback from those with whom they work.

Supporting this, research over the decades shows that one of the most consistently identified features of high performing leaders in organisations is good self-awareness. In other words, effective leaders understand how they lead, and what impact their leadership has on other people around them.

Human error in understanding our impact on others
When we ask people to rate their own strengths and weaknesses as a leader, their ratings tend not to correlate (or agree) with the ratings given to them by people around them (e.g. their manager, colleagues, and direct reports). Typically, there are areas in which they overrate themselves, and areas where they underrate themselves.

However, when we examine just the ratings given by those around the manager, these groups of people tend to have high levels of agreement (or correlation) with each other in their ratings. Comparing this agreement between the groups of raters with the leader’s own ratings, suggests that individuals tend not to be particularly self-aware. In other words, we usually have a distorted view of our behaviour – both in under- and over-rating certain strengths and development needs.

Leadership, by definition, is the act of influencing others around you to move in the same direction. After all, as they say, “A leader without followers is just a person going for a walk”. Therefore, when you compare a leader’s own ratings of their effectiveness with the ratings of others, it makes sense that others’ ratings are more important (or accurate). What this means is that if we want to ensure that we are able to influence others to move in the same direction as us, we need to regularly seek feedback in order to remain as self-aware as possible. This enables us to adapt our behaviour whenever we need to, to retain their commitment to the direction we are proposing.


Effective 360-degree feedback
When used for developmental purposes (as opposed to performance appraisal) 360-degree feedback is the best way to gather useful and accurate feedback as a leader. How we run the process with our clients provides you with exactly this type of positive opportunity.

Only you will see your feedback report, unless you choose to show it to the person facilitating your feedback session, or anyone else. They will not share the contents of your report or your feedback discussion with anyone else inside or outside your organisation. After the feedback session, you may find it valuable to share your feedback report with colleagues, direct reports, or your manager, in order to gather further useful detail such as examples of what you do well and what you could improve specifically – but that will be up to your personal choice.

Through this type of process, taking part in 360-degree feedback is a confidential and enlightening way of ensuring that you have the information you need from your manager, colleagues, direct reports and others. By asking others for their feedback, and then acting upon it, you can ensure that you remain as effective as possible in your role.

Refreshing your leadership understanding for rapidly changing times
In fast-paced industries, the pressure on you to effectively lead your team through uncertainty and change increases significantly. Taking advantage of the opportunity to seek 360-degree feedback and facilitated coaching is one of the ways in which you can ensure that you remain influential and valued as a leader.

The other key benefit of the 360-degree feedback process that your organisation is offering you is that the tools provided by Real World Group are based on the latest research on how you can:

• Increase productivity with the same (or reduced resources)
• Enhance commitment, motivation and satisfaction (engagement)
• Reduce job-related stress and other aspects of employee wellbeing
• Increase capacity for innovation among your teams
• Lead others effectively through change.

In other words, taking the opportunity to reflect on your behaviour using our diagnostic instruments means that you can ensure that you are developing your skills in ways that will not only add value to your organisation, but which will also make your leadership challenges much more achievable. Undertaking a quantitative 360 process, where you are asked to respond to statements based on a proven leadership model is much more effective than informally asking colleagues and your team for feedback. This is because it focuses the feedback specifically on the kinds of behaviours you need to be aware of, rather than just what happens to be at the forefront of your colleagues’ minds at the time. Find out more here.