Five Reasons to Complete a 360 Leadership Self-Assessment

Posted on February 5, 2020 by

Perhaps you are asking yourself, “Why should I complete a leadership self-assessment; what can it do for me?” Let’s back up for a moment and consider the following scenario. You are a motivated individual who puts tremendous effort into your work and takes every opportunity to enhance your knowledge and skills. Perhaps you are not in a management position (yet); or perhaps you are in a management position and are aiming for a spot on the executive level. Regardless of your current position, your aim is to move forward; to grow, professionally as well as personally.

Professional growth manifests itself in different ways. It can mean having the inclination to assess and act upon your strengths and weaknesses; to determine a direction that resonates with your skills, interests, passions, and vision; to take ownership of your role in a project; to effectively and influentially facilitate efforts within a team; or to have the right expertise and personal touch to take charge of a situation at a moment where your contribution can be critical. All of these examples are manifestations of different leadership traits and competencies.

Whether you lead others or just yourself, actively cultivating leadership skills is critical to your career growth. So where do you begin? The first step is to assess your current leadership skills and traits. This can’t take place in a vacuum as leadership (of self and others) involves interacting with people. Although self-reflection is important, getting feedback from trusted colleagues and mentors is essential. This is where a 360-feedback leadership assessment can be useful as it allows you to gather feedback from select colleagues and to balance their feedback against your own self-assessment.

In short, professional and personal growth entails leadership. And assessing your leadership capacity is an important step to building an outstanding career. Here are few more reasons why a leadership self-assessment can be helpful:

Leadership is an attribute first, a position second

The great thing about this principle is that if leadership is an attribute, then all of us have it. Although not all of us are responsible for managing large groups of people, we draw upon our own leadership skills on a daily basis when making decisions that will impact ourselves and the people around us. This is one reason why every employee should take time to self-assess his/her leadership skills. It’s an attribute that each of us is responsible for cultivating.

Giving and receiving feedback effectively is a critical leadership trait

A 360-feedback environment provides those involved an opportunity to communicate positive and negative feedback. It requires critical thinking skills and interpersonal skills. Presenting useful feedback, whether positive or negative, requires you to think clearly and communicate effectively. Receiving and making use of feedback requires the ability to balance and critically assess what’s important to you and to your entire work circle. If every person in a work circle participated in giving and receiving mutual feedback, then they would collectively establish a teachable and positively self-reflexive environment.

Cross-functional knowledge helps build leadership awareness

It’s obvious that we cannot be experts at everything; this is why collaboration is so important. But this does not mean that we should become isolated either when it comes to our own areas of expertise. Effective leaders have a working knowledge of cooperative disciplines to gauge how different departments interact. As employees, we already do this but at a smaller scale.  Although various departments participating in a single project may have the same end goal, they will most likely have different perspectives and means of accomplishing that goal. The benefit of getting feedback from colleagues from different departments is that their assessment of your overall performance is coming from their own unique disciplinary perspectives and needs. Understanding these perspectives is one aspect of professional development; it is also a key leadership trait.

A culture of improvement and trust

Effective teams are comprised of experts who can communicate well with each other. The frequency or consistency of communications not only establishes a deeper sense of trust, but also a heightened ability to view a project from each member’s perspective. Since team members have different roles, responsibilities, and expertise, their collective problem-solving capacities are multiplied as well as their abilities to quickly identify and fix errors. Leadership self-assessments within and/or across work circles encourage trust and team-building. Such a dynamic establishes a culture of improvement which can have tremendously positive effects for morale and operational performance.

A deeper sense of vision and strategy

A leader has to become a fountainhead providing creative insight, clarity of purpose, and direction. In short, a leader has both vision and the wherewithal to create a strategy to achieve that vision. But vision and strategy are distributed and made operational in every employee’s day-to-day tasks. This is where the ‘rubber meets the road.’ Improvements made even at the smallest levels can make a significant contribution to a larger strategic initiative. Every employee has his/her own sense of personal vision and a strategy to achieve it. The same can be said about teams (perhaps at a more ‘tactical’ level). When both can be aligned with the overall corporate vision and strategy, great things can happen.

But for this to happen, each employee must have a keen understanding of what this means and entails. In addition to assessing your own strengths and weaknesses, collaborative feedback can help you and everyone involved identify areas of strategic alignment (areas where everyone is either on the same page or not). Analyzing everyone’s detailed understanding of a given strategic initiative, and finding ways to improve its execution is a hands-on study of strategy in practice and a developmental requirement for future leadership tasks.

Final thoughts

Leadership traits are something that we all possess in varying degrees, and we draw upon them on a daily basis. It’s our responsibility to cultivate these traits if we are to grow personally and professionally. Completing a 360 leadership self-assessment is one step to getting started in this direction.

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