Being a leader can sometimes feel like living within an echo chamber.
Opinions almost always match your own and you might not always get to hear dissenting opinions or harsh feedback, especially from employees who are below you on the corporate ladder.
However, as a leader, is it vital that you get to listen to feedback from all sides. It does not do well to only listen to opinions or feedback that is in line with what you are thinking. Doing this creates confirmation bias and confirmation bias can be dangerous because it blinds you to criticism or any obvious issues.
Through 360 feedback, leaders can access a picture of themselves painted by their employees, peers and even senior executives. It might not always line up with the picture they have of themselves, however, it might provide them with useful insights and suggestions that they can apply later on. 360 feedback from multiple sources also tends to be mostly free of individual bias.
Here are 4 significant benefits to 360 feedback for leaders.
Also read: 360 Degree Feedback: Benefits, Pitfalls and Implementation Tips
Insight About Ourselves
This is one of the biggest benefits of 360 feedback. It has long been proven that there’s a big gap between the way we see ourselves and the way others perceive us. Leaders too are not immune to this. They might be aware of most of their strengths and weaknesses, but often, they might not be aware of major weaknesses or issues. But this weakness might be visible to everyone else because they are often at the receiving end of it.
The point above reinforces why leaders need to be open to 360 feedback assessments. Self-awareness is one of the best qualities a leader can possess. And 360 feedback assessments feed into that. Through the lens of 360 feedback, leaders can see how they are viewed by employees whom they interact with on a daily basis, peers with whom they share an equivalent relationship and of course, any other higher-ups. For example, leaders might think they are really good at being brief and to the point. But to their employees, it might seem like they are skimping on information. This highlights the communication gap that the leader needs to work on addressing and accurate 360 feedback assessments can help a leader figure that out.
When leaders participate in 360 feedback programs, are open to receiving feedback, and changing based upon that feedback, it signals that they are accessible to others and are not closed off. Of course, leaders should not have to be completely open books, but the nature of a leader’s job is such that they already come across as very distant and inaccessible. And because of the preexisting power dynamics between leaders and employees, employees may not be that comfortable about sharing feedback about their leaders, unless the leader specifically solicits it and has shown themselves to be open about receiving it.
So the very act of undertaking 360 feedback and soliciting honest opinions shows that leaders are willing to take the next step and be more self-aware. Employees often take their cues from leaders. When leaders model good behavior, employees follow suit.
Also read: Do’s and Don’ts of Giving 360 Feedback
Paves Way for Critical Conversations
Often, feedback from a leader can ring hollow if they are not practicing what they are preaching. But when leaders show that they are open to receiving feedback and listening to feedback that might be not pleasant, and furthermore, are also willing to make the attempt to change, it sends a strong message.
If leaders show that they are willing to change, employees to then will happily follow suit or even be more open to critical conversations themselves. They begin to learn which kind of behavior is rewarded, and which kind if not. Employees themselves will solicit critical conversations or learn to be open to criticism.
Change in Culture
Good 360 feedback programs have the power to effect a massive change in the culture of an organization. Some of the benefits of 360 feedback include transparency, increased communication, and better insights. When leaders participate enthusiastically in 360 feedback assessments, employees too see why they should participate. Often, if the attempt to better organizational culture starts from the top, it has more of a chance of succeeding.
If you want to implement 360 feedback the right way, at your organization, Engagedly can help you.
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