• Jeff Doolittle

1 Leadership Assessment Tool You Need to Try

Development is essential for leaders to thrive in today's turbulent marketplace. You are either growing or falling behind as the world is changing fast. Leadership assessment helps leaders build leadership capacity and address individual, team, and organizational challenges. 360-degree assessment is one tool you need to try if you have not already. 85% of Fortune 500 companies already use 360-degree assessments. In my experience, every employee wants performance feedback. Also, it is common for leaders to receive less constructive feedback significantly, the higher they move up in the organization. If you are looking for actionable and individualized feedback from others, you will love this tool.

360-degree leadership assessment has been around for over 25 years. Its uses range from development and performance management to decision-making purposes such as compensation, promotions, and even downsizing initiatives. While 360-degree feedback effectively improves leadership skills across all cultures, it is most effective in cultures with low power distance and individualistic values such as Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

360-degree assessment refers to an organizational chart view from where the rater feedback originates concerning the leader being assessed. Confidentiality is a foundational aspect of 360-degree leadership feedback. Responses are anonymously collected and grouped by the rater's association with the leader. The feedback collected is aligned to measure the degree of the leader's performance on each of the behaviors as well as group perceptions. At the organizational talent level, the 360-degree assessment provides input into the team and organizational performance and corporate culture.

Individual and Organizational Value

According to peer-reviewed scholarly research, 360-degree feedback at an individual leader level is demonstrated to increase self-awareness, leadership effectiveness, job satisfaction, role clarity, and employee engagement. In addition to the personal leader benefits and value of 360-degree leadership assessments are positive organizational talent outcomes. Research supports that the feedback can improve organizational talent performance, organizational agility, decrease absenteeism, and increase organizational talent commitment. In today's volatile and complex environment, organizations are looking for ways to improve agility, and feedback friendly cultures are linked to improved agility. In a recent 2019 research study, one organization improving sales leaders' leadership competency lead to over $200 M difference in sales performance. At an organizational level, 360-degree feedback improves role clarity and engagement which is often linked to enhanced performance resulting in an organization's competitive advantage.

Although the benefits of 360-degree assessment are documented, it is critically important that they are facilitated appropriately. There is upfront work that needs to be done to prevent potential unintended negative issues such as closed-mindedness, rater bias, individuals using the assessments to attack a leader, or creating a culture that avoids direct communication. The following are some keys to 360-degree assessment success:

  • Maximize value by linking behaviors assessed to organizational values and leadership style (keep it short and simple)

  • Promote valid feedback by thoughtful consideration of raters with leader input

  • Educate raters on the assessment and its purpose ahead of administering

  • Predict how raters will respond before receiving the actual survey feedback

  • Utilize a