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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Helping Leaders Excel Under Pressure

Positive Leadership Limited is a strategic leadership consulting firm, serving clients based mainly in the UK and USA.

Positive Leadership (http://www.positiveleadership.co.uk/) delivers advisory and business consulting services which:
  • assist the leaders of organisations facing change, identify, develop and implement practical strategies designed to maximise the positive financial and human impact of such high pressure events; and
  • help organisations develop the leaders of today and tomorrow.
Our advisory and consulting services include: leadership advice in the areas of leadership strategy, business strategy, corporate transaction strategy and performing under pressure; and leadership consulting in the areas of mentoring and coaching, leadership development and leadership assessment. We draw extensively on lessons from elite sport in the work we do.

Positive Leadership Limited shares global best practice and thought leadership with its clients and builds the awareness and reach of its client focused 'game plan for winning' through various channels, including its online presence at http://positiveleadershiplimited.blogspot.com/  and http://www.positiveleadership.co.uk/  and through public speaking and writing.


For further information, please contact:

Graham Watson (mob: +44 (0)7774 883 103 or graham.watson@positiveleadership.co.uk)
Gavin Hastings (mob: +44 (0)7802 212 121 or gavin.hastings@positiveleadership.co.uk)

Good leaders create more economic value than poor leaders and extraordinary leaders create significantly more economic value than the rest.


The Psychology of the Winner


Getting the Most from a 360 degree Leadership Assessment

A 360 degree leadership assessment is one of the most effective ways to get feedback from your employees, peers and managers against a set of pre-defined leadership competencies.

Here are 10 suggestions for getting the most value from a 360 degree leadership assessment:

1. Mentally prepare yourself.

You have to go into these things with the right frame of mind. Don’t get all worked up dreading the results and hoping no one says anything bad about you. Instead, go into it with the objective of unlocking the secrets of what you need to do to become a better leader.

2. Don’t try to find all the answers out yourself.

This is critical. Any responsible programme or organisation wouldn’t implement a 360 degree feedback process without offering assistance with making sense of the data. Even though you may know the instrument inside and out, you should still will sit down with a coach, a colleague, or your manager to review the feedback. When you’re too close to the data it’s way too easy to miss something. It’s human nature – we sometimes see what we want to see, are too hard on ourselves, or make assumptions that others would not make. If anything, having someone to talk through it with just provides emotional support.

3. Don’t play detective.

Don’t waste time trying to determine who made a comment or who rated you high or low. Unless it’s your manager’s rating, the reports are designed to protect the raters. Too many managers make assumptions and have been wrong. Just take each comment and rating for what it is – data – and focus your energy on what you’re going to do about it.

4. Holistically or systematically?

There’s two ways to sort through all of the ratings and comments. Some managers take a more holistic approach – they take it all in, let it marinate, and come up with themes, patterns, connections and trends. It’s like an art to them. Other managers prefer to take a more analytical, systematic approach. They focus on the statistically significant differences and their own complex algorithms in order to make sense of it all. There is no right way – they both work. Use whatever method works for you, and don’t let someone force you to use a method that doesn’t fit your style.

Also – while comments are important – don’t get too hung up on a single comment, especially if the ratings and rest of the report don’t support the comment. It’s this tendency to overreact to a single comment that has caused some 360 providers not to use them. Try and find value in them, when taken for what they are – a single data point.

5. Pay attention to and celebrate your strengths!

Some managers completely dismiss what others think are awesome strengths. That’s another reason why it’s better to have someone go through the results with you. Unfortunately, leaders don’t always get to hear about what they are doing right. These strengths can also play a part in finding out how to overcome or work around weaknesses.

6. Look for blind spots and differences.

Blind spots are areas where you’ve rated yourself higher than others have. This could either be due to lack of self-awareness, or a marketing problem. Either way, they may need to be addressed. Differences in ratings between rater groups may mean you’re showing up differently depending on the situation. Perhaps your manager sees you as a great listener and your employees don’t. In this example, it’s not an issue of not knowing how to listen – you’re just choosing who you listen too. It could be more of a respect issue.

7. Absolute vs. relative scores?

If a “4” on a seven point scale is defined as “good”, and your lowest score is a 5.5, does that mean you don’t have any development needs? No, not unless every single one of your other scores is a perfect 7. Anything less means there’s room for improvement. Some organisations or groups of employees tend to rate their managers higher. Focus on your own relative strengths and weaknesses, not what the rating scale says.

8. Find 2-3 things to improve.

When all is said and done, the objective is to find 2-3 leadership behaviours:
  • where you have the opportunity to get better
  • that are important to improve, i.e., they will make a difference in your success
  • you are motivated to improve.

9. Make a plan and take action.

360s are great input to an individual development plan. However, don’t just keep the plan to yourself – share it with others. These two steps – having a written plan and sharing it with others – have proved through research to be the single biggest differentiators of those who have taken a 360 and improved and those that have not improved. Follow-up and thank those that have provided you with feedback and let them know what you’re going to work on to improve your ability as a leader.

10. Follow-up.

If possible, take another assessment 12-18 months later. That’s about how long it’s going to take for people to notice any improvement in behaviour. You don’t have to take the entire assessment again – just the questions relevant to the areas you are trying to improve.

Asking for feedback takes a lot of courage, and requires a big investment of time from many colleagues. Follow this advice and you’ll get the most ROI for the effort.

Leading by Example

Five years ago, Donovan McNabb led the Philadelphia Eagles to their first Super Bowl in almost a quarter of a century. Four years ago, he practiced at minicamp just six months removed from reconstructive knee surgery and recovered in time to start the season opener. Last year, McNabb overcame the first benching of his career to lead the 5-6-1 Eagles to four wins in their last five games, into the playoffs and to their fifth conference championship in the quarterback's 10th year.

Still, eight games into the 2009 season, Eagles coach Andy Reid is convinced that his franchise quarterback has taken leadership to a higher level. Many of McNabb's teammates have also praised the veteran quarterback's leadership this season.

McNabb doesn't think he's done anything differently this season than any of his first 10.

"It's really no different than what I've been doing the past couple of years," he said. "I think that at this particular point right now, because those (veteran) guys are gone, that I guess they probably hear my voice a little bit more or pay more attention to what I'm saying.

"Anytime that you have a young group, and when it comes to the core guys of this team, (I'm) talking about myself, (Brian) Westbrook, (David) Akers and probably not even a handful of guys that are still here, you just try to provide confidence to them, first. Secondly, prepare them for what you will be faced with throughout the year. Third, I think it's more or less just going out and making sure that they're having fun and being themselves.

"That's kind of the way I've tried to set the tone for them and just show them by my work ethic, the way that I prepare myself throughout the week, and when I step out on the football field, just to go out and win games."