Sign in

How to unpack the results of your first 360 leadership assessment

If we’re lucky, at some point in our lives, we’ll fully recognize and step into our real power. For most, this is a remarkably thrilling experience where the puzzle of our purpose comes together.

As one’s influence and power grow, however, I’ve witnessed an interesting phenomenon: We can hit a growth hurdle, and some of us begin to resist and clench against external feedback, even if it might make us markedly better leaders and humans.  

This behavior change opposition seems counterintuitive, right? Well, not if the stakes are high enough. Not if we believe that seeking honest feedback might make us look incapable of understanding ourselves, our team, and our domain. And especially not when our coveted status as a respected leader—perhaps even a visionary—is placed squarely at risk. 

My career as an executive and leadership coach has afforded me the luxury of sitting in the behavior change panic room with some of the most respected leaders around. One thing I’ve learned, without exception, is that resistance is universal when it comes to looking at ourselves objectively, whether we realize and accept it or not.

So how can we jump the track? How can we allow ourselves to embrace self-awareness with compassion, vulnerability, and courage? First, we need data. Unwinding years of repeating thoughts, beliefs, behaviors—and the outcomes that inevitably accompany them—requires fresh insight. For some of us, a deep dive is essential. Others may only need a fine-tune. Either way, making the conscious decision to reprogram our way of perceiving ourselves, and the world around us, allows us to experience far more expansive and extraordinary lives.

Right now, many of us are experiencing the most restricted, uncertain moment in our lives. During a time when colossal levels of negative stress are showing up for us personally and professionally, inviting additional feedback may feel inconceivable. However, over the years, I’ve learned of two antidotes to combat stress and fear:  1.  To help others, 2.  Focus on personal growth.

Here is where the 360 leadership assessment comes in.

What is a 360 Leadership Assessment?

The 360 leadership assessment is rooted in behavioral science, and it’s one of many HR software tools that can support employee development. As an evidence-based tool, its primary purpose is to extract broad, reliable, and valid data shining a light on specific actions and behaviors. Multiple viewpoints of a leader’s strengths and blind spots are measured to support growth and sustainable behavior change.

Accomplished through an honest self-assessment coupled with candid feedback from managers, peers, and direct reports, hard data from various perspectives gets aggregated. Armed with precision knowledge and clarity, a leader can then begin mapping a course of action toward goal creation and, ultimately, the desired change.

Initially designed as an elemental organizational tool to cultivate better leaders at scale, the aim of the standard 360 is to examine and increase self-awareness, self-efficacy, and accountability.  

In terms of leadership, these are significant values to assess. However, the most modern and architecturally-robust assessments go one step further. Hundreds of additional leadership traits, theories, and strategies allow us to really get under the hood and create lasting change.  

We have learned that incorporating innovative and precise analytics has the potential to create sustainable behavior change as agile and dynamic as our leaders and organization are today.

What are the Benefits of a 360 Leadership Assessment?

There are three main benefits of a 360 leadership assessment:

  1. The development of authentic relationships
  2. An increase in internal and external self-awareness
  3. The creation of viable behavior change

Many studies have concluded that a primary linchpin of impactful leadership is the ability to develop authentic relationships. Growth mindset, psychological safety, resilience, and compassion are some of the areas Torch’s 360 leadership assessment digs into deeply. Incorporating these high-value, forward-thinking constructs, this leadership assessment uses nine subdomains that ladder into three overarching domains: personal, interpersonal, and team to provide the necessary raw data to understand our ability to earn respect, trust, and loyalty to build those coveted relationships.

What’s the best way to form these bonds? It all begins with self-awareness. The insightful talent analytics drawn from a 360 assessment allow us to interact with our team and organization in a more connected, constructive, and cohesive way. Countless studies reveal that many of us spend too much time focusing solely on internal self-awareness. While positive, internal introspection only offers data on how we see our values, thoughts, behaviors, strengths, and blind spots. To be truly useful, we must also learn to balance the scale by seeking data to understand our external self-awareness—how others perceive us.

So why can’t we rely on performance reviews for this hard data? The answer is simple: To create viable behavior change, we must make those small, conscious upgrades from an internal reference point. In other words, we must empower ourselves to improve upon areas that most resonate with—and are potentially the most painful for—us. From there, we have the agency to carve out a clear path to better leadership based on clarity and our definitions of success.

What to Expect in Your First 360 Leadership Assessment

A technology-enabled platform, the Torch 360 leadership assessment is undeniably streamlined. First, we kick off an honest evaluation of ourselves. In tandem, critical managers, peers, and direct reports receive invites to elicit anonymous feedback in three primary leadership domains:  

  1. Personal
  2. Interpersonal 
  3. Team

Branches of numerous subdomains provide additional insight into a leader’s known strengths, hidden strengths, challenges, and blind spots. Finally, an opportunity to gather written qualitative feedback to deep dive into a leader’s specific growth challenges, strengths, and organizational hurdles provides another meaningful layer of context and clarity.

Once this data is collected, typically over a week or two, the 360 results can be released for review.  At Torch, we recommend navigating the results with an expert—and emotionally intelligent—coach. A collaborative review is often most successful to objectively examine feedback data patterns and trends, and cultivate lasting, self-awareness.  

From here, the next step is to design a development plan with specific learning goals and actions to track progress toward our desired behavior change.

In the spirit of ongoing learning and development, and the ability to measure positive change over time, a second 360 leadership assessment will launch after six months to gauge overall efficacy of the engagement.

Unpacking the Results: Approach with Curiosity

As mentioned, we tend to resist feedback, primarily when it might come across as negative feedback. Some clients show up to their first 360 review with their arms crossed, closed off, and desperately protective. In this state, we often find ourselves in a loop of rumination on feedback that doesn’t resonate or won’t be expansive.  

Instead, I invite clients to inhabit an attitude of genuine curiosity. From this state of mind, we can more accurately work through what stands out, what feels most authentic, what’s surprising, and what is hard to hear.

All that said, will we run up against discrepancies in our self-assessment and the collective feedback? More than likely, yes. Does that have the potential to sting? Of course. We’re human. So what’s the best way to proactively approach these inconsistencies without the insatiable desire to discredit and wrestle them to the ground? It is a mindset shift. Our blind spots are not weaknesses. Instead, our blind spots can be where our most life-altering opportunities and power reside.

So if these blind spots offer invaluable insight—and real opportunities for positive behavior change—how can we pragmatically utilize this data? Navigating the path with the help of a trusted coach becomes invaluable here. Why? Because behavior change is messy. It is not often a linear, clean process. Instead, we must become aware of what we’re attempting to change over and over again. Our brains require repetition to learn new skills and carve new neural pathways. Working collaboratively with a coach will allow us to design a concrete plan with a dedicated ally.

Once we’ve identified and designed an overall framework, we can begin plugging in learning goals. These are specific target areas to address and move the self-awareness needle in our favor. Torch offers 12 learning goal categories, mirrored after the domains in the 360. Some of these include:  integrity, empathy, vision, inspiration, and execution. Carving out actions specific to the emerging themes and challenges in the data allows us to effectively connect the missing links.

Leaders who are willing to accept feedback with compassion, vulnerability, and courage have the most considerable positive influence on those around them. They build relationships with ease. Choosing to make small, conscious upgrades to our current way of interacting with the world and each other affords us the ability to make colossal shifts over time, even when life feels most uncertain. 

The only way to understand our areas for growth is to have the courage to ask. From there, we earn the luxury of viewing ourselves more realistically and expansively. To become markedly better leaders and humans, we must be willing to reinvent ourselves repeatedly, and continually let go of what we believe we know. That is legitimate power.

To learn how Torch’s 360 Leadership Assessment can make a difference for your leaders, request a demo below.