Ever wonder why so many leadership development programs start with assessment surveys? Experts say it’s a great way to make certain you’re focused on what matters the most. Just consider the experiences of a chief policy maker in the healthcare field, who we’ll call “Ellen.”
When Ellen enrolled in a development program for senior executives, her workplace colleagues completed feedback surveys on her leadership capabilities. And the results caught her by surprise. While she got rave reviews from bosses and direct reports, her peers on the executive team gave her uniformly low marks. They saw her as someone focused only on herself, with little interest in the challenges they faced.
Ellen’s Wake-up Call
It was a real wake-up call and became a focal point for the leadership development work Ellen needed to do. Rather than spending time on things she was already doing well, she concentrated on building better communication with her peers — making herself more available to them, and expressing an interest in and support for their work.
The results were transformative. The entire executive team began to collaborate more effectively on important policy issues and to find a new sense of satisfaction and enjoyment in the workplace.
Assessment data accelerated Ellen’s leadership development in a meaningful way, and it can do the same for you. Craig Chappelow, a CCL faculty member who served for several years as the organization’s assessments portfolio manager, says the key is to get the right feedback from the right people and to use it in the right way. Here are 5 steps he recommends:
1. Pick people who see you in action.
You’ll get the most useful feedback from those who see you most frequently and work with you most closely. They don’t have to be dear friends or even people you like. Just look for those who are in the best possible position to observe your behavior on a frequent basis. Explain what you’re doing and ask for their help. Encourage them to be direct and honest in their responses when the survey arrives. This personal outreach will increase your response rate and invite the kind of helpful feedback you need.
2. Be open to the results.
When you get your feedback report, be ready to embrace whatever it contains. Don’t discount positive results or become defensive about the negative. Remember that your survey participants have done precisely what you asked them to do. Be open to what they tell you and use it to jumpstart your development program.
3. Look at the big picture.
Identify overarching themes and patterns in your feedback report instead of latching onto any single data point. If you become overly focused on certain responses, you may miss the bigger picture. So sit with your results and mull them over. Work with a coach to pull the pieces together and to frame key insights you can take away and use as a touchstone.
4. Use what you learn to set realistic goals.
When it comes to leadership development, one size doesn’t fit all. You need a plan that responds to your own individual needs — and that’s where assessments shine. They help you understand your impact on others and crystalize what it means for you to be a more effective leader. You see which leadership competencies are already strengths and where you have gaps that need work. Use those “big picture” themes you’ve uncovered in Step 3, and think through the areas you are most motivated to change. Set realistic goals and use what you’ve learned to build your leadership development roadmap.
5. Monitor your progress.
Share your development plan with your boss and with other trusted colleagues who are committed to your success. Ask them to support you and to help you stay on track. Check in with them at regular intervals to discuss your progress and to evaluate how the changes you’ve made are being received. You can use what you learn to fine-tune your approach and further accelerate your leadership development.
Taking the Next Step
If you are interested in how assessments can accelerate your own leadership development, it’s time to find out more:
- Exploring how our new online CCL Compass™ tool can help you quickly visualize your 360 assessment data in a graphical format, set relevant goals, and establish your own action plan complete with deadlines and calendar reminders. CCL Compass lets you see the competency areas where you excel and those that might need more work. Users can share goals with their manager directly from the tool and copy content from CCL’s rich library of information that’s built into the application. Starting in November, all of our Skillscope® and Benchmarks® suite 360-degree assessment data will be delivered through CCL Compass.
This tool is also available to people who haven’t completed an assessment. While many leaders already know what they need to work on, CCL Compass can still offer them a quick digital guide for setting goals and taking action.
- Learn more about Compass: Your Guide for Leadership Development, a newly published book that serves as a companion to the CCL Compass dashboard. In this book, you’ll find guidance on how to develop 4 core leadership competencies relevant to leaders at any stage of their career. It offers a thorough guide for leaders looking to develop specific competencies and for coaches who help others through the learning process. Along with advice on goal-setting, the book features stories of real leaders who excel at critical leadership competencies as well as some who don’t, allowing you to learn from both.