Power Of 360s – Part 1
During the past month, we have all been amazed by the 360° jumps achieved by Olympic ice skaters. Some demonstrated triple axels. Others soared in quads. Last weekend, basketball fans were treated to 360° windmill dunks by NBA players in the annual All-Star game.
All these 360s reminded me of a challenging workplace episode I encountered more than 25 years ago.
After reading Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” I registered for the corresponding four-day workshop here in Washington DC. I was so impressed by that workshop that I asked the Dean of Georgetown Law, Judy Areen, if I could become certified to teach the workshop to Georgetown Law employees. Judy agreed to sponsor my training and we created a plan for me to start teaching the content to Law Center staff members.
As part of the certification process, I had to answer a 100-question survey about myself and how well I thought I lived up to the leadership principles described in Covey’s book. That part was challenging and caused me to engage in serious reflection.
However, I was also required to identify peers, direct reports, and supervisors who would be asked to complete the same questionnaire about me. Their responses would not be connected back to them so, except for the Dean herself, I had no idea which responses were made by which individuals. After all responses were collected and tabulated, my own answers were compared and contrasted with those of the other respondents and sent to me in a detailed report.
I was gratified by the great majority of data included in the final report, but I was also surprised and a little stunned by other responses. The report motivated me to engage in deep thinking about my leadership style, my own perceptions of how I showed up for my teammates, and how I was perceived by others compared to how I perceived myself.
Now, as I engage in leadership coaching with managers and supervisors across the country, I frequently hear people say “I wonder how I’m perceived on this particular issue?“ or “I wonder what my team thinks of this new project “I’m asking them to undertake?”
I encourage clients to do the obvious – ask questions of the people with whom they work. It’s truly remarkable how often leaders keep questions submerged in their own minds without striving to ask questions of the very people who they are leading.
360° reviews are a powerful form of asking questions so that we can learn more about our own leadership effectiveness and style from the people with whom we work most closely. Unfortunately, many leaders are afraid to take that step. So they keep their questions hidden and continue wondering what others truly think.
Do you ask meaningful questions about your leadership of the people with whom you work on a daily basis?
If not, I encourage you to build the intestinal fortitude to start asking those critical questions.
Up until now you may have been too timid or lacking in courage. Starting tomorrow, what steps can you take to learn more about how you are perceived in the workplace by the people who matter most?