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One Invaluable 360-degree Tool That Must Not Die

Notes from the Field

As a former VP of Human Resources, I am fully aware that some HR practices need to die a sudden death. Many strategies, processes, and policies have served their useful purpose and are ready for replacement or retooling.

That said, I feel the need to take exception to a recent article by Forbes.com contributor Liz Ryan, Ten Ridiculous HR Ideas That Need to Die, in which she includes 360-degree feedback systems as one of her 10 ridiculous ideas that must die. Describing her reasoning, she writes, “Who could tell employees with a straight face, "We are going to help you perform at a higher level by having your co-workers anonymously supply feedback on your shortcomings—without attribution, specific details, or any context around the events that led to their assessment.” Real leaders don't make their employees fill out anonymous feedback forms. That's a great way to kill trust on a team—not build it!”

Whoa…Ms. Ryan obviously has never encountered the LPI®!

I left the HR world 18 years ago to become a facilitator, mentor, and coach to leaders and teams around the world. During the past 10 years, I have facilitated workshops and coached leaders (about 200 each year) using the LPI®360. Many, if not all, of the leaders I’ve coached have reported personal breakthroughs as a result of the anonymous feedback provided by their selected Observers—from their managers, direct reports, co-workers, and others who see them in their roles as leaders. And with feedback coming from as many as 8-10 Observers, on average, themes start to emerge from both the numerical assessments and the written comments that deliver invaluable insight into how leaders show up in the world and how those around them view the frequency of the behaviors most characteristic of exemplary leaders.

Time-tested over the past 35 years by authors and LPI creators Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, plus over 700 studies and PhD dissertations conducted by other scholars, the research validates that what leaders do to get extraordinary results in organizations around the world is not only quantifiable, it is learnable!

Counter to what Ms. Ryan seems to assume in her article, our LPI 360-degree feedback process focuses on an evidence-based collection of 30 specific behaviors that correlate with exemplary leadership (versus a focus on “short comings” or flaws that need to be “fixed”). Increasing the frequency of those 30 behaviors has been proven to improve team effectiveness, morale, productivity, and profitability. Turn-over and absenteeism decreases and engagement improves as leaders increase their emphasis on increasing the frequency of these behaviors.

During The Leadership Challenge® Workshop and/or in one-on-one coaching sessions, leaders receive feedback on how they are doing on The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®. And when taken in full measure—along with answers to open-ended questions Observers have provided about the leader’s strengths, blind spots, and greatest contributions—leaders often come away with eye-opening revelations about how they can improve as a leader…starting tomorrow.

So, yes, Ms. Ryan, there are some bad assessments out there. But, please don’t lump the LPI360 in with that batch. When administered and debriefed properly, this proven assessment can and does have a life-changing impact on leaders and teams around the world—regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or any other demographic you can think of. But don’t take my word for it. The sixth edition of The Leadership Challenge is packed with the latest research and evidence of the power of the LPI to deliver results.


Tom Pearce
is President of iLead Consulting & Training and a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge® who has worked with leaders and teams around the world as a coach, trainer, and mentor. He has coached over 1000 aspiring leaders using the LPI® and trained over 2000 people in his workshops over the past 10 years. He can be reached at tompearce@ileadusa.com.

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