You’re A Key Player
As a key player in your leadership role, you won’t be satisfied with just any coach. You feel a strong focus, and the support of someone familiar with “cognitive” and “emotional” issues, plus leadership and interpersonal team dynamics, is a great idea. But you also want well-validated and reliable psychological assessments to highlight your personal and professional strengths. Your coaching results should give you a focus that will make others notice.
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Start with a Vision
For individuals who have never had the benefit of leadership coaching, it ought to be a simple task to skill up. Start with a vision of a strong and healthy leader. Lead with your values and allow your team of responsible professionals to fall into place.
But if you already have a bevy of bad habits, advancing your artful expression with leadership skills may be more challenging.
Toxic Cultural Experience?
When you’re caught up in a slightly more toxic culture than you’d like, sometimes all you can do is skill up and plan for your future.
Character strengths are the positive parts of your personality that make you feel authentic and engaged. They will assist your overall leadership vision. This is the focus of level 2 coaching.
Character or your values are positive personality traits that can be improved and developed to navigate your vision. Bring your strengths to life & live more fully.
You’ll Need Leadership Skills
Your leadership skills coaching will continue by highlighting your most impactful interpersonal skills in coaching level 3; it’s not the most intelligent people who are successful or fulfilled in life.
Implement a 360-degree feedback process that can adapt to your vision, strategy, framework, and organization.
Redefine How You See Yourself
Improving your leadership effectiveness requires behavior change. A 360-feedback process – level 4 coaching – when done right dramatically increases the chances that change will occur. When leaders discover that others see them differently than they intend or want to be seen, they have a simple choice. Either they redefine how they see themselves, or they change their behavior.
Too many companies don’t take the 360-degree feedback process seriously enough. It often goes like this: After shopping around and deciding on a coach who will assess them using a 360-degree feedback instrument, they read the report with some interest and put it away. Sometimes, it’s never discussed again.
The outcome? Little, if anything, changes. The mindset of the leaders who received the feedback report isn’t altered. They don’t change their behavior toward others. In most cases, this process doesn’t do any damage (other than wasting time and money), but it’s a missed opportunity — for the leader and the company.
Take Your Assessment Seriously
Leaders that take the process more seriously, of course, get much better results. The 360-degree feedback instrument may be the same, but its administration is entirely different. This approach stands in contrast to what I’ve described above — and is what I strongly recommend. Here are some of the key differences:
- The leader helps choose who among their colleagues should respond to the survey.
- The leader communicates with those respondents, asking them to provide candid observations.
- The report is presented to the leader in a confidential one-on-one coaching conversation.
- The leader is provided with context and guidance to understand the data.
- The leader also receives a customized set of developmental recommendations, mapped to their leadership competencies, to help them create a personal development plan.
- There is a follow-up session to help ensure accountability.
There are many reasons to follow a process that looks more like this. In my ten-plus years of helping leaders implement 360-degree feedback instruments, I’ve seen the following benefits of using this process. Harvard Business Review
This is one of the most important outcomes of any feedback process. People with little self-awareness are often puzzled by the behavior of others toward them. They might wonder, “Why do people not include me in casual conversations?” “Why do I end up in heated arguments?” “Why was I not chosen to lead this project? I know more than the person they selected.”
When a 360-assessment is carried out as described above, the leader can compare their self-ratings to the ratings from others. Having ratings from multiple people (I recommend at least a dozen) proves this is much more than just one person’s opinion. Combined with accountability, this evidence serves as a strong impetus to change.
In our experience, leaders are sometimes pleasantly surprised by the differences between their own opinions of themselves and the observations of others. Usually, a few pieces of feedback are confusing and cause the leader to question, “Why would someone think that?” This is part of expanding their self-awareness as they learn more about their strengths and weaknesses. Their world makes more sense.
Reiteration of Essential Messages.
Leaders who go through a 360-degree feedback process will often reflect on a comment or piece of feedback and say, “I’ve heard that before. My (husband/wife/partner/roommate) has told me that, but I didn’t think it was that important.” But now, when a dozen or more people collectively observe that the leader isn’t a good listener, the message becomes more explicit. The 360-degree feedback process underscores the seriousness and credibility of the feedback.
The anonymity of the process means that colleagues give their feedback with the understanding that it will be confidential. The result is far greater honesty and candor. And I’m happy to say that after a decade of conducting and reviewing these of 360-degree feedback reports, I have never seen intentionally barbed or mean-spirited messages.
Continuous Personal Change
There’s also an increased likelihood of change if several leaders go through this process together. Social reinforcement makes it easier for everyone involved to be more receptive to new ideas and feedback. This is the same reason that working with a coach can help a leader to change; the coach holds leaders accountable for their commitments to change their behavior and follows up to see if they did.
Leadership & Outcome.
Another motivation for a leader to change their behavior is seeing the impact on measurable outcomes, such as employee engagement and effort. When they understand that altering how they lead can result in better performance – especially among their direct reports – they’re much more likely to follow through.
We know from hundreds of studies that as leadership effectiveness increases, so does the retention of valued employees, customer satisfaction, profitability, productivity, and employee engagement. The graph below shows the assessment results from 97,617 leaders.
Leader’s Direct Reports Outcomes
Each leader was rated by their direct reports on 49 behaviors that differentiate poor leaders from great ones. The horizontal axis is the average score on these behaviors — an overall leadership effectiveness index. The vertical axis shows employee engagement (e.g., satisfaction and commitment) for the leader’s direct reports. Note that engagement increases by more than five percentile points for every decile of improvement in overall leadership effectiveness.
Leadership Ripple Effect
When a leader improves their effectiveness, it doesn’t just benefit them or their direct reports. Other people throughout the organization benefit, too. We’ve seen that as one leader improves, others are motivated to do the same, creating a ripple effect that lasts over time.
In fact, all levels of leadership in an organization are influenced by the collective capability of the top team. We’ve seen in our research that if the top team scores just above average in overall leadership effectiveness, each successive layer below them will have lower scores. In contrast, if the top team has aggregate scores at the 80th percentile, it creates an “updraft” in the organization, with higher scores at every level. This, of course, means that investing in leadership development can pay big dividends.
Companies have continued to use the 360-degree process throughout the years because it works. But to have the outcomes outlined above, it has to be implemented in a way that engages leaders in the process, so they are compelled and motivated to become better leaders. When leaders learn through feedback whether others’ perceptions of them are different than their own, identify a weakness to fix or a strength to build, and understand if their leadership is affecting the productivity and engagement of their direct reports, they can use — and act on — that information, improving themselves and the company in the process.
Leaders drive results and achieve goals. To face the obstacles of today and tomorrow, we need leaders at every level.
Secure access to your executive coach & develop yourself as a Leadership Legend.
Four leadership coaching levels
One assessment & 6 sessions per level. $1650/level (6 sessions + 1 assessment);
Total Program Cost
Four assessments & 24 sessions: $4,800 (Approximately one-year commitment).