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Building better leaders

Building better leaders

Full Circle Feedback has recently reviewed the data it has collected over the last decade from the 360 degree feedback profiles of thousands of leaders of some of Australia's top private and public sector organisations.

Here, Maryanne Mooney, director of Full Circle Feedback reveals the qualities we most value in our leaders and explains how 360 degree feedback can help leaders address some of the key challenges they face...

There are many qualities that we want our leaders to display but what do we consider the most important of these?

According to the data we have collected over the last ten years from thousands of 360 degree feedback profiles, the strengths that Australians most value in their leaders, as perceived by leaders themselves, their peers, direct reports, managers and stakeholders, in order of importance are:

  1. Results focus
  2. Problem solving
  3. Strategic focus
  4. Decision making ability
  5. Focus on quality
  6. Customer focus
  7. Teamwork
  8. Accountability

Our research also explored what people perceive to be the greatest challenges to leaders. According to our review, in order of importance, the biggest challenges that leaders face are:

  1. Developing people
  2. Conflict resolution
  3. Innovation and change management
  4. Managing performance
  5. Developing trust
  6. Celebrating success
  7. Influencing and motivating people
  8. Developing self

So how can 360 degree feedback help leaders improve?

As managers and leaders we are all works in progress. One of the great benefits of 360 degree feedback is that we catch people when they are on their journey, help them focus on their strengths and ask them to honestly examine how they can be the type of leader that everyone wants on their team.

360 degree feedback allows leaders to gain honest feedback from their peers, direct reports, managers and stakeholders. Gaining such an holistic picture of their performance as a leader can help leaders become the very best they can be. It also allows teams and organisations to strategically build their leadership capacity.

So what areas does 360 degree feedback address?

At Full Circle Feedback we typically look at four key areas:

  1. The tactical/strategic tension - Today's workplaces have a frenetic pace and we see many people caught in the 'day-to- day' trap. We ask leaders to consider their roles as both a manager (involved in immediate situations) and as a leader (involved in more future-oriented activities). People need both management and leadership skills but as they become more senior, we often find they lack strategic thinking and influencing skills. 360 degree feedback can help leaders address these shortfalls.
  2. People - A high degree of emotional and social intelligence is critical for management and leadership success. The ability to demonstrate that leaders value and care for their people, even when under pressure, is often sadly lacking in many of the stories we have heard from our 360 degree feedback participants. Managers who are promoted for their technical skills and their ability to complete tasks can often struggle in this area.
  3. Balance - Achieving work-life balance is a huge issue in today's 24/7 world. We often talk to managers and leaders about using the 80/20 principle (i.e. 80% of what I do is likely to be ineffective!) and help them to manage their energy and time better. Many of our clients have faced severe resources cutbacks, which can put extreme pressure on them, especially when you consider the escalating demands of the Information Age and consumer expectations.
  4. Stepping into the leadership vacuum - If I had a dollar for every senior manager who admitted to feeling like a bit of a fraud or an accidental success I would have made a mint! We work with people to explore what is blocking their real success and help them step into the leadership space.

Everybody needs honest, constructive feedback to help them be the best they can be. After ten years of conducting 360 degree feedback projects, we believe it is one of the most effective ways to gain honest feedback and help leaders build on their strengths.

Maryanne Mooney is the founding director of Full Circle Feedback Pty Ltd, an Australian company that specialises in individual and organisational change using 360 degree feedback, staff and organisation surveys and leadership development and coaching. Please send any comments or questions you have in relation to this article to: mm@fullcirclefeedback.com