Why you don’t get feedback anymore,
and why you really need it!

The more senior you are, the less feedback you get from the people that matter. If you want to be a good leader, you need to get feedback that helps you improve. A 360-degree survey is one of the best ways to get quality feedback as a leader.

Gus circle 

Author: Gus McIntosh

If leadership were a professional sport it would be laughable how much feedback the average leader received…and a review conversation once a year would hardly cut it either! But why should it be different in the business world where people are getting paid to be a, well, professional leader?

The leadership definition that matters most in an organisational context is building and maintaining an effective team. Which consequently means, the most important perspective about a leaders performance comes from those who are being led by that person. The one-up managers’ view is important no doubt, so to are peers, but if someone wants to really understand the impact they’re making as a leader and how they could improve, they need to get candid insights from their direct reports.

The problem is, the more senior the leader the less straight up the feedback from their direct reports.

As leaders work their way up in an organisation, the people best placed to give them honest feedback are ironically less and less willing to do so. There is a variety of contributing factors, but one simple truth that’s pretty hard to get around is this: people are going to be a little reticent about providing critique directly to the very person who is most responsible for their salary and bonus, their potential promotion, and ultimately their continued role at the organisation.

The role of a 360 survey in leadership feedback

The 360-degree survey emerges as a powerful tool in this context. It democratises feedback, allowing leaders to gain insights from all directions - managers, peers, and as mentioned by far the most important group, those people who actually report to the leader. Direct reports especially hold an invaluable perspective and the 360-degree survey enables them to provide those insights without fear of any negative impact to their own context. As a result the feedback is more candid and more powerful for the leader in their development.

Implementing a 360-degree survey can be transformative for leaders and even more so the teams of those people when they act on the feedback provided. It encourages a culture of transparency and continuous improvement in organisations. Leaders gain a well-rounded view of their performance, including blind spots that may not be apparent from top-down feedback alone. This comprehensive level of feedback is essential for any leader who wants to keep developing and build their professional skills in a leadership role.

The 360-degree survey addresses the challenge of getting robust and candid feedback no matter how senior the leader may be. It provides a structured and confidential way for direct reports to share their views without fear of repercussion, ensuring that leaders receive the honest and constructive insights they need to develop. This is crucial for leaders to understand how their actions and decisions affect their team's effectiveness, and what they could do to improve.

Ultimately, the 360-degree survey is not just a feedback mechanism; it's an important tool for leadership development. It equips leaders with the knowledge to refine their skills, enhance their leadership style, and ultimately, lead with greater understanding of what the team needs. Developing skill and capability as a leader is hard – and certainly not for the faint hearted! – but it’s next to impossible in the absence of good feedback from the people who really matter.

For anyone looking to build their professional skill in a leadership role, undertaking a regular 360-degree survey is a big step towards building and developing capability as a leader, and role modelling a strong feedback culture in the team.  For more information on 360 surveys download our Leader 360 Survey Guide  https://www.winsborough.co.nz/winsborough-activate-360 


Need more information? Contact the Winsborough Team:
winsborough.co.nz | 0800 222 061 | support@winsborough.co.nz