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All Around Good Leadership

When it comes to leadership styles, many experts agree that leaders tend to exhibit two distinct types of behaviors: task behaviors and relationship behaviors. Task behaviors focus on processes and end results, whereas relationship behaviors concentrate on the people doing the work. Taskmasters demonstrate a heavy emphasis on authority and compliance; for them, people are simply the ends to a mean. But while tasks and results are important, it's the ability to form and nourish relationships that sets highly effective leaders apart from the rest.
360-degree evaluations help distinguish leaders who display relationship behaviors from those who are predominately task focused. 
As the name implies, "360-degree" evaluations allow leaders to solicit feedback from people all around them, including their superiors, peers, and subordinates. Participants get anonymous feedback on a wide-ranging list of leadership and management abilities. High scores in certain competencies normally correlate to low grades in others, substantiating the theory that leaders are either task or relationship oriented.

Most 360-degree evaluation tools include some type of graph on which participant scores are plotted, indicating whether raters perceive them to be task or relationship focused. The remainders of the reports contain the scoring data that support the graph and any written comments that raters provide.

While administering 360-degree evaluations for clients, I've noticed a common tendency that prevents leaders from gaining the task-relationship insight that the instruments are meant to provide. When they first receive their feedback reports, most participants rush past the overview of their leadership profiles and turn immediately to the comment section. It seems that leaders are more interested in what their co-workers said about them than they are in learning about their task-relationship styles.

But the graph is where leaders should center their attention. There, participants will see a snapshot of how their raters currently perceive them as leaders. While the data includes outlier ratings, comments of disgruntled employees or jealous peers, and other survey "noise," the graph reflects their raters' overall perception. And since the most effective use of 360-degree evaluations is leadership development, the graph provides a benchmark for improvement.

The ability to receive comprehensive and anonymous performance feedback can help leaders at all levels determine their task-relationship tendencies. If you have the opportunity to get 360-degree feedback, resist the urge to focus on your lowest raw scores or negative comments. Instead, use the graph as a milestone in your leadership development journey and adjust your behaviors accordingly.

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Couldn't agree more. 360 feedback is summary off everyone's opinion. Outliers, positive or negative usually don't represent the whole.

Besides, you can please everyone.

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