1080 Degree Feedback

by Rachel Clapp-Smith, Associate Professor of Leadership, College of Business at Purdue University Northwest

Have you ever wondered if the leader you see in yourself is the leader others see? There are a host of theories I could regale you with to explain how and why we come to see ourselves as certain types of leaders. However, on the very basic level, the question of finding congruence in how we see ourselves and how others see us is a matter of self-awareness. The most important piece about becoming self-aware is getting feedback. Many organizations implement systems such as 360 assessments and annual reviews as mechanisms to provide feedback. Sounds like a good idea, right?

Well, the problem is that organizations do a good job with building the structures, but a terrible job at the very human element of the feedback loop – how to craft feedback in a developmental way, how to absorb feedback that may not always be positive, and how to turn such feedback into actionable items for improvement. If you are human like me, your gut reaction to feedback might be dread in anticipation of feedback and sulking if it is negative. Because we all feel this way, we have a tendency to give positive feedback, which is nice to have something reaffirm how great we are, but not always developmental, because it may make us think that everything we do is just fine. The truth is, we all have room for improvement.

I might suggest at this point that we all just suck it up and learn how to process feedback so that we can turn it into something positive. This isn’t bad advice and I would recommend training yourself to use a learner mindset in receiving feedback about how you lead. But this aeticle is about how to get really honest and complete feedback. When you want to hear the hard news, who do you turn to? The people who know you well, who support you, and who can be honest with you. In short, where strong relationships exist, so, too, does honest feedback.

Because of this, it is almost silly to use only 360 degree feedback, i.e., only in the workplace. With 1080 degree feedback, that workplace information can be augmented by family and friends, and members of our community domain (volunteer organization, church group, sports club, etc.). This gives leaders a panoramic view in high definition. When the leader they see is not the leader others see, the 1080 view will make it clear why, because the feedback is more complete and in some areas, likely more honest.

How often do you ask your friends and family about how they see you lead? We have evidence from our research that the way they see you lead has an awful lot to do with the way you see yourself lead. Furthermore, our research shows that the more your friends and family acknowledge you as a leader, the more effectively you lead at work.

There’s a lot of power in 1080 feedback. Are you ready for it?

About the author
Rachel is an Associate Professor of Leadership in the College of Business at Purdue University Northwest. She received her PhD in Organizational Behavior and Leadership at the University of Nebraska and MBA in International Management at Thunderbird, the School of Global Management. Dr. Clapp-Smith has devoted her research to Global Mindset and Global Leadership Development, publishing articles in journals such as the Academy of Management Review, International Journal of Leadership Studies, Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, Human Resource Management, Cross-Cultural Management, European Journal of International Management, and the Journal of Business Studies. She has also published a chapter in Global Mindset: Advances in International Management and in a volume of Advances in Global Leadership. Dr. Clapp-Smith has presented at a number of annual meetings of the Academy of Management, International Leadership Association, and Midwest Academy of Management. She is a co-coordinator of the Network of Leadership Scholars and Director of The Leadership Center at Purdue University Northwest.