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Effective Leadership is Not a Popularity Contest

Asking the right 360-feedback questions

Research conducted by Zenger and Folkman and printed in their book,The Extraordinary Leader, showed the results of over 200,000 360-feedback surveys conducted on 20,000 different executives. They discovered that there is a set of five critical competencies that executives in the top 10 percent of the pack embody:

  1. Character
  2. Domain or technical competency
  3. Focused on results
  4. Interpersonal effectiveness (not just nice)
  5. Leading organizational change (they are not caretakers)

These five competencies are why I strongly recommend that you ask questions to help determine the competency of an executive. You should also be wary of “Mr. Nice Guy” when making critical promotion decisions.

To create a valid and useful 360-feedback survey, you need to ask questions like:

  • How effective is the executive at setting clear goals and objectives?
  • How effective is he or she at holding people accountable for achieving those goals and objectives?
  • How well does the executive handle challenging personnel issues?
  • How effective is he or she at providing developmental guidance and support?
  • How effective is the executive at influencing people?
  • How effective is he or she at driving necessary change?
  • Do people respect him or her (not just like him or her)?
  • Is he or she someone that others trust?

Effective leadership is not a popularity contest. It’s about achieving results with integrity. I’ll talk more about integrity in a future issue.

Carl is a business psychologist and leadership development expert who focuses on the development of high performance leaders.

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