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The challenge of leadership development

47% of leaders fail according to Adrian Furnham, Department of Psychology, UCL.  Given this statistic, there is reason to be concerned about how leaders are selected and subsequently developed.

In terms of leadership development, the challenge is to develop attributes that are less about skills and more about knowledge, attitude, values, and judgement.  In tribal communities, leaders tend to be the wise elders, appointed because of their maturity and experience. Do we value wisdom and experience as much, in the West?  And if we do how do we develop it?  Leaders today have to deal with challenges and situations that cannot be predicted – rapidly changing technology, developing global markets, political pressures, media attention to name just a few.

Developing resilience, creativity and the ability to inspire during hard times involves exposing leaders to a wide range of experiences and helping them learn from them.  360° feedback enables them to see the impact they have on others whilst giving them practical challenges that allow them to receive feedback from followers will develop their ability to respond as true leaders.  Making critical decisions where ambiguity and complexity are paramount requires courage, judgement and intelligence; all attributes that develop over time and through involvement and exposure to a broad spectrum of experiences, role models, honest feedback, and rich debate and discussion.

Our leadership programmes are based on the premise that great leaders develop over time and cannot be developed through a few modules.  Get in touch if you want to learn more.

Successful 360 degree feedback implementation

We've been providing and using 360 degree feedback for more years than I would care to remember.

Over this time we've been involved in complex 3rd party tools with reams of data, bespoke 360 which is framed around existing organisational competencies, and generic tools which look at factors common to most people in the work environment.

Of course, each has its place. Generally, my personal preference is for a generic tool with plenty of room for comments by those who are giving the feedback. And this is why:

  • True to the experiential value, reality is better than theory (that's my personal view!). 360 is about what our colleagues actually perceive. Keeping the questions and scoring simple, whilst giving more room for colleagues to provide feedback in their own words greatly increases the depth and relevance of the information.
  • Whilst at times valuable, a 360 tool linked into an organisation's competency framework can be costly to develop, can raise concerns and questions which limit receptivity, and limits the use of the tool for a wider range of development opportunities. A generic tool is quicker and cheaper to implement, is more readily accepted by learners, and can be applied easily to a range of learning programmes.
  • Usability is absolutely key to successful implementation. Keeping it simple makes the tool easier to present to users, to administer, and to interpret. We've often had feedback from clients who have found our implementation of 360 a breath of fresh air after the mire of their previous experience.

Anyway - sermon over.

We've just completed a project where we've used our generic online 360 to deliver feedback and development coaching to some middle/senior managers for one of our private sector clients. We combined the 360 with MBTI and delivered the feedback in 1:1 coaching sessions.

The experience was received really well by participants, and the client was also happy with the implementation and delivery of the project.

Credit where credit is due though: We were very struck by the amount of good quality feedback given by colleagues to each other. The managers who received this feedback found it extremely revealing and as a result were highly motivated to do something about it!

Find out more about online 360 degree feedback here

The power of feedback

Recently a client asked me help support a senior manager within their organisation. They wanted him to receive some 360° feedback and wanted it to be gathered through 1:1 conversations and the feedback delivered face to face.

I took a structured approach by preparing some statements around leadership, influencing and communication and devised a simple scoring system. I asked each person to score the statement and then captured their comments to help explain the score.

I spoke to a range of people including direct reports, colleagues and the individual’s line manager. Then, once the interviews were complete I compiled a report showing graphical information and the comments under each area.

To be honest I was quite concerned about delivering the feedback as it was very honest and I wanted it to be helpful not demoralising. However, by following the structure (and trusting the process!) I was struck by how helpful he found it.

Crucially, through the visual data on the graph he was able see clearly and accept the areas he needed to work on alongside the areas where his strengths were. From there we were able to start to plan how to make the changes.

It felt really good to know that my client actively supports their senior managers to grow and develop, and I was able to gather and give the feedback in such a way that it was constructive and helpful to him.


Back from Brasil

I’ve just returned from Brasil where I’ve been leading a trek in the mountains for people raising money for a charity. It’s been a great experience. I do it for fun really: It combines my own interest and experience in travel and the outdoors, with my experience of working with groups, and the satisfaction of introducing people to new things and learning.

Meanwhile in the office, everyone has been busy. We’ve landed some new work with existing clients and we have proposals in for my new work with both new and existing clients.

The business simulation we developed went really well, and we feel this is easily transportable to other clients and target groups and could be augmented with additional observation and feedback, and psychometrics.

Also new, and all happening while I was away, is our new 360 degree feedback tool. We now have the facility to deliver bespoke 360 degree feedback online and we ran this for a client a couple of weeks ago. The output was useful, and we’re also very please with the presentation of the material - online and in hard copy.