Strategic 360s

Making feedback matter

Is Your Mirror Foggy?

leave a comment »

[tweetmeme source=”anotherangle360″]

As an alumnus of Dartmouth College, I receive the Alumni Magazine whose current issue contains an interview with the new(ish) president, Jim Kim (see  if you can’t control yourself).  A couple things in the interview caught my attention, including this statement:

The folks in leadership studies at Tuck have said the one thing that is critical for the development of better leaders is self-awareness, the so-called 360-degree analysis. The challenge for us is to structure the kind of education that will lead to the graduation of young people with a clearer sense of what it will take for them to be effective human beings.

Of course, the “360” part is interesting in itself, though I’m not sure what the “so-called” part is all about.

Is self-awareness the most critical of all leadership qualities? My model of leadership behavior change includes awareness, followed by acceptance, as the “keystones” to creating sustainable change.  Organizations are also in constant flux and in need of change, and organizations need some way to create awareness.  Dashboards are a way that organizations become of area in which they are succeeding and failing, and therefore drive change. For the individual leader, the 360 feedback process may be the most powerful dashboard if done correctly, at least on the “how” side of the performance equation (versus the “what”).

Another argument for the importance of awareness came to my attention during the current Republican primary contest. One pundit, in comparing the field of contenders, offered an observation that, except for Rick Santorum, the other players seem to be lacking this sense of self that Dr. Kim alludes to in his quote. One symptom of that lack of self is the constant and repeated use of “Reagan Republican” by almost all the candidates to describe themselves. I even saw a parody of a contest of the candidates as to who could say the name “Reagan” the most times in 10 seconds.

While I’m at it, there was one other quote from the interview that is worth sharing:

It’s fairly well known now that I have a leadership coach, Marshall Goldsmith, who was recently ranked one of the world’s top-10 thought leaders and who also teaches at Tuck. He took me on as a pro bono case. In Marshall’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, he lists the 20 most common mistakes that CEOs make. Probably the biggest mistake is adding too much value. I didn’t understand that in the beginning, but I sure do now.

You may know that I am a follower of Marshall’s and the book is one I have reviewed and passed along to others (including my family members).  Dr. Kim offers up another important leadership characteristic or, in this case, flaw that plague leaders as they move up the organization. I have compared Marshall’s list of 20 pitfalls to be similar in spirit to the derailers described many years ago by Morgan McCall and associates at the Center for Creative Leadership, though the specific content is different. But both can also be useful content for 360 feedback processes.

Is it time to go and defog your mirror and test your self awareness?   Oh, and remember that what is in your mirror may be closer than it appears.

©2012 David W. Bracken

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: