If you lead a team for an organization, and have courage, here is a great question to ask you: ‘would I want to work for me?’ Now step into the perspectives of those with whom you work closely. What would they say if given the opportunity to participate in a 360 review about you?
Before I dive into interviews for a 360 leadership study, I always meet with the person the study is about and ask him, what do you think people will say about you? I have been surprised to discover that they are always right. We already know, deep inside, what we do well and where we can improve. But saying it out loud makes it real and scarier. And before I facilitate organizational health off-sites for teams I prep the leader of the team to be prepared for getting beat up a bit; because they almost always do. When team members, aka employees, know that they are participating in an offsite meant to constructively build out HOW they can get their jobs done more constructively, they will inevitably speak up…eventually. They need to feel safe to do that. An online team assessment that measures how the team is performing in the areas of trust, conflict, commitment, accountability, and results brings the reality of their work together into the room. From there a meaningful discussion about what has been and what can be begins, and trust starts to grow. The discussions that follow are powerful often because the elephant(s) in the room, the un-discussable(s) is revealed even if obliquely so. There is no better antiseptic than the light of day, as they say. But it can be hard for leaders to hear.
So leaders often feel beat up a bit. I tell them to prepare for this and then ask them to do a few things: listen, don’t argue, listen, take it, and then say thank you. I ask them; ‘think about if you would like to work for you?’ The truth is that if what everybody says is true, that leadership matters, then team feedback matters too and can be quite revealing. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say” is what we are talking about here and it is the powerful evidence of great leadership. It’s easy to SAY the right things but people are LOOKING for the actions that go with the talk; it’s about alignment. This isn’t new or revelatory until you put it to the test and say the truths out loud. Then you can’t hide.
The good news is that for leaders who really do want to see their organizations be better, and want for their own leadership to be better, they can absolutely get much better if the leader invests the time, is willing to hear what’s hard, and then lead their team to the better, more constructive place. It can be done but it takes resolve, courage and a willingness to listen to the answers to very challenging questions, like would they want to work for them?