Management expert Ken Blanchard once said, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Yet for many of us feedback is a hard meal to swallow. The minute someone suggests giving us feedback, our defenses go up and our hearing fails. Both reactions are limiting to our growth and development. Especially as a leader.

As a leader, your actions and behaviors have broad impact. The individuals who report to you, your peers, your leadership, customers, vendors, partners and the organization overall.  Gaining insight about how you positively impact others as well as areas where you could do better will help you become the best leader you can be.

An effective way to obtain this insight is through a 360 assessment.

In her recent Forbes article, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About 360 Assessments But Were Afraid to Ask,  Jo Ilfeld, CEO of Incite to Leadership, points out that there are numerous benefits when organizations take the performance management conversation beyond just the manager and direct report.

“If you are human,” she says, “you have blind spots. A 360 can illuminate glaring blind spots: You want to empower your team by letting them come to you when necessary. Your team finds you aloof and unapproachable. Or you value relationships and finding compromises. Your colleagues want you to occasionally be selfish or take a hardline stance when necessary.”

Although it may be difficult to hear, this kind of feedback will help you “see” what others see and thus become more self-aware. Becoming self-aware and recognizing that there are always opportunities to learn and grow are first steps in strengthening emotional intelligence, which is a key quality for leaders today and into the future.

Ilfeld suggests that there are three crucial points when a 360 assessment is most beneficial.

  1. When you are starting a new role or opportunity
  2. During periods of struggle or difficulty
  3. When you engage with an executive leadership coach

She also notes that working with a leadership coach is the best way to ensure that feedback received is turned into actionable steps. Without coaching, people tend to focus only on the areas where they need to improve. Building on your strengths is also essential to your growth and development.

“All of us have growth and development areas. Rally your strengths to tackle where you could be even more effective. That’s a rewarding leadership endeavor.”

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates