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A 360-degree leadership assessment is a development tool that gathers feedback and data regarding a leader’s performance from multiple sources or raters. The leader’s performance is most commonly evaluated against a set of questions, skills, and competencies. The data is then collected from these questions, and raters most commonly include their immediate leader, peers, team members, direct reports or others outside of the organization, such as clients or customers.

What Is the Objective of a 360-Degree Leadership Assessment?

A 360-degree leadership assessment aims to help leaders, supervisors, and managers acquire a holistic view of their leadership skills, capabilities, performance, or behaviors by unveiling how these attributes are being perceived by or impacting those around them. The assessment allows leaders to understand their strengths, limitations, and oversights in an effort to improve and make necessary adjustments to their leadership skills, practices, or behaviors.

What Are the Benefits of Conducting a 360-Degree Leadership Assessment?

Over 85% of Fortune 500 companies utilize and understand the value and benefits of the 360-degree leadership feedback process. Leadership assessments offer these five benefits:

1. Elevate Self-Awareness

A 360-degree leadership assessment provides an objective picture of a person’s skills, behaviors, and competencies. The results from an assessment allow leaders to do the following:

  • Better understand their strengths and improvement areas
  • Understand the implication of their effectives in the organization
  • Make skill or behavioral adjustments for improved team and organization performance
  • Identify behavioral patterns they may not be aware of

2. Enhance Accountability

A research study illustrates that 72% of professionals believe leadership accountability is a critical business issue. Only 31% of working professionals are satisfied with the level of self-accountability their leaders display.

360-degree assessments increase the number of touchpoints between leaders and team members (and other participants who might be invited to complete the assessment). Because leaders grow more self-aware through these touchpoints, they are generally more open and motivated to take responsibility and be self-accountable for improving and making behavioral adjustments based on feedback.

As the 360-degree review process is impartial, these assessments help reduce workplace biases; rather than feedback from a single person, leaders get evaluations from multiple individuals. Thus, the feedback is more balanced, and leaders can draw more meaningful conclusions in order to make the necessary adjustments that will enhance leadership capability and produce benefits for them, their team, and the organization.

3. Elevate Performance

A 360-degree assessment finds opportunities to improve and progress in a leadership role. The assessment responses are essential data for identifying specific leadership skill development opportunities and training needs to elevate performance.

The process also identifies leadership strengths, and the organization can identify ways to further leverage those strengths for the benefit of the leader and other stakeholders involved in their development process.

4. Foster Connection and Trust

Best-selling author Brené Brown discusses the relationship between vulnerability and hard emotions like trust. It takes a certain level of exposure, openness, and vulnerability to provide and receive feedback during the 360-degree assessment process. Being known and vulnerable may be difficult, but a willingness by the leader and raters to step outside their comfort zones creates connection and trust. 360-degree assessments open the door to building these components.

5. Support Long-Term Growth

This type of assessment is invaluable for long-term sustained leadership development. Leadership excellence should be an ongoing process in the workplace; rather than providing a one-time or short-term development opportunity, a periodic 360-degree assessment will provide leaders with the insights needed to sustain their growth and continuous development and be prepared better prepared for advancement opportunities.

CMOE infographic of the circular process of receiving feedback

How Do You Create a 360-Degree Leadership Assessment?

Whether you are using a generic or proven 360-degree leadership assessment or looking to build your own customized and targeted assessment, consider these four tips to ensure it produces the desired results.

1. Keep It Brief and Focused

Depending on the thoroughness, what it is measuring, and the type of feedback it is soliciting, a 360-degree leadership assessment should not take more than 15 minutes to complete. Overly long assessment may cause fatigue, and the quality and accuracy of the data provided by raters may begin to decline and impact results.

2. Create Alignment with Your Leadership Model, Values, or Culture

Align assessment questions with your organization’s leadership model, values, or business culture. This alignment is important for creating measurable value from the process, establishing the right expectations, and guiding leaders toward proper behaviors.

For example, suppose you’d like to encourage adaptability due to current and prospective market shifts. In this scenario, a 360-degree leadership assessment may have a category of questions that focus on adaptability. Questions might ask the following:

  • “How well does this leader adapt to changing priorities?”
  • “Is this leader open to new and innovation ideas?”
  • “How well do you believe this leader identifies new opportunities and provides guidance to others on how to purse them?”

Reflect on why you’re initiating this 360-degree assessment. What kind of outcomes (i.e., self-awareness, development action plans, performance review discussion points) do you want it to produce? How do these connect with overall company objectives, culture, or values?

3. Focus on Strengths and Development Needs

With assessments, it’s often easy to focus on trying to pinpoint where performance deficiencies or skill gaps exist. However, it is important to assess and identify strengths as well.

According to Gallup, learning about your strengths helps increase productivity by 7.8%. Strength awareness also leads to higher levels of performance and profitability.

Don’t hesitate to include open-ended questions such as these:

  • “What would you say are this leader’s strengths?”
  • “What is one thing this leader should continue doing?”

4. Share Results In Person

When providing the results of a leadership 360 assessment to a leader, conduct a one-on-one conversation with the leader being assessed rather than sharing the assessment results digitally. Face-to-face debrief sessions offer a personalized experience that promotes productive conversations about the data. This helps to manage emotions or frustrations that may arise if feedback is less favorable to the leader. It also provides an opportunity to discuss where the leader can focus their development plans and efforts.

Moreover, one-on-ones allow you to tailor your communication style to best align with the receiver’s style.

Be candid yet caring when reviewing and discussing the results and make room for questions and conversation. The key is to create a psychologically safe environment where the leader is open and receptive to the opinion and thoughts of others.

Find the Right Assessment with CMOE

Knowing what type of 360-degree leadership assessment is right for your organization is critical to building leadership capacity. Let us assist you in finding the right solution. We offer assessments that align with CMOE’s leadership development workshops. Or, for organizations looking for more targeted solutions, our assessment design team can customize a 360-degree leadership assessment that aligns with your leadership model, framework, or skills that you have identified are critical to the success of your leaders and organization.