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High Quality 360 Feedback – Changing mindsets

This post is about how to work with leaders to create a powerful coaching agenda following 360 feedback, an agenda that identifies leadership behavior your client wants to practice, as well as the shift in mindset that will support this practice.

In an article published in Forbes, leadership expert Kevin Cashman reported quantitative research findings based a large sample size of managers and companies. This research clearly established that companies who had managers with higher levels of self-awareness performed better financially than companies whose managers had lower self-awareness. Wow! How to act on this knowledge?

Theoretically, a primary way to increase self-awareness in a company’s leaders is to give them 360 feedback. Possibly. But it really depends on how the 360 process is designed and implemented. I’ll say it bluntly: Instituting a 360-feedback process and leaving participants alone to become “self-aware” and interpret and act on the feedback (which some companies still do) is wishful thinking and a waste of time and money. At a minimum, 360 participants should be supported in five ways:

  1. They should receive an orientation that clarifies that the feedback is solely for their learning (not an external evaluation) and shows them how to lean into the process and get the most out of it.
  2. A coach, trained to use the feedback instrument you’ve chosen, should help them interpret and “digest” the feedback.
  3. That same coach should help them create a solid action plan (coaching agenda) that gives them a clear template for the changes they want to make.
  4. These steps should lead to a multi-session coaching relationship, guided by the action plan
  5. The coaching process should include some attention to what I call "self-leadership" – helping the client learn how to sustain change by continuously experimenting with more effective leadership behaviors and reaching out to others for feedback.

In this post, I want to place special emphasis on step 3: The importance of focusing on both mindsets and behavior when creating a coaching agenda that includes an action plan for each practice the client wants to adopt. In the Development Planner that accompanies our Leadership Agility 360, we have a format that helps managers get very clear about each behavior they want to change. (We recommend no more than three changes at a time). Briefly but specifically, they describe the current (soon to be “old”) behavior. Then: What will the new behavior look like?

This is about as far as most 360 processes go. But at this point, our certified Leadership Agility 360 coaches ask: What is the new (or shift in) mindset, attitude, feeling, or assumption, that will make it feel easy and natural to practice the new behavior? And how will this behavior benefit you and others? This often leads to an in-depth coaching conversation, which includes identifying the mindset that underlies the “old” behavior. What a difference that makes! The mindset shift becomes a reference point to which the manager can return repeatedly, making it easier and easier to internalize a new approach to leadership.

Also, at the beginning of the 360 process, our certified coaches help their clients clarify their key leadership initiatives, meaning significant changes they want to make in how their team and organization functions. These initiatives provide one (though not the only) important criterion for choosing new leadership practices to work on. Once their action plans are complete, these coaches help clients visualize how making their chosen mindset-and-behavior changes will make it easier to accomplish their leadership initiatives.

How can you learn the Leadership Agility framework and become certified in the unique process used with the Leadership Agility 360? Check out our April Leadership Agility 360 Workshop here.

How can you become certified in the proprietary "vertical development" coaching process for working with leaders once the 360 process is completed? Go here to learn about our Leadership Agility Coaching Certification Program.



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