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How effective are your leaders? Analysis of 360-degree feedback

A Lane4 white paper | 27 June 2012

This report summarises key themes from an analysis of 1,992 360-degree feedback ratings of 194 leaders, across twelve different organisations from a range of sectors. These 360-degree questionnaires were administered to leaders as part of leadership programmes that they were involved in.

One of the strengths of the 360-degree feedback process is the assumption that different raters have different perceptions (and provide different ratings) of the individual’s performance. Indeed, this analysis revealed a number of significant differences between raters. The results suggested that leaders may tend to overestimate their qualities, as leaders scored themselves higher than their raters on 67% of the competencies. Line managers tended to give the lowest ratings, followed by peers, with direct reports being more generous raters.

Generally, average scores on the leadership, emotional intelligence and coaching competencies included in this analysis are high, from both self-ratings and others’ ratings. Overall, results indicated that these leaders are particularly strong at ‘building a coaching relationship’, but the ‘empathy’ element of emotional intelligence is on average rated as the weakest of these competencies.

There are significant differences between what leaders (self-ratings) think are their strongest competencies and what ‘others’ (their line manager, peers, direct reports) believe these to be. However, self-overestimation doesn’t occur across the board. Leaders tended to underestimate their ability to set goals, provide effective feedback, and ask effective questions, compared to the ratings of others. However, on average, leaders considered their self-awareness, ability to influence and ability to encourage collaboration to be significantly stronger than their other raters. Leaders’ self-ratings also tended to be significantly higher than others in terms of role modelling, provision of personalised support, recognition of performance, self-direction and empathy.

These results demonstrate the value of 360-degree questionnaires in highlighting differences between how people are perceived and how they perceive themselves. The insights generated by such findings can then be used to identify the specific personal development priorities for enhancing that individual’s success in the future. The results of this analysis highlight empathy and influencing skills as two specific priority areas for future leadership development.

Download the white paper on the right